That’s not how we used to do politics in the Highlands: SNP candidate takes supporters on aggressive visit to Charles Kennedy’s office

The very first election I was ever involved in was in 1983 in Caithness & Sutherland. It was the first election since Bob Maclennan had left the Labour Party and was standing for the SDP/Liberal Alliance. It’s fair to say that there was a bit of bad blood from his former Labour colleagues. Not once, though, do I remember them coming round mob-handed and shouting at the people in our office. Their aggression was limited to filthy looks at hustings.

What on earth has happened to the peaceable Highlands?  I’ve just been speaking to members of Charles Kennedy’s team in his office in Fort William. They told me how the SNP candidate for the area, Ian Blackford, stormed in this morning with 4 supporters and shouted at everyone, wagging his finger at a member of staff. If he’d tried to do that at the doctor’s surgery or to a member of Scotrail staff, for example, he’d have found himself in big trouble. Why, then, did he think it was acceptable to treat young people in that way?

He threatened “retaliation,” of an unspecified nature if they did not apologise and retract something entirely verifiable that they’d said on Facebook.

There have been many occasions when I’ve been unhappy about things that opponents have said. Most of the time, you just ignore it and get on with telling your own story.  If it does need highlighting, you do it in writing or by an assertive and calm conversation with the agent or, if needs be, the Returning Officer. Never once had it dawned on me to take a posse and shout at folk in the opposition office. It’s just not the way you do things.

I wrote the other day about how unpleasant things are in Scotland’s rather febrile political environment at the moment. The sort of intimidating behaviour we are seeing is just not on. I doubt it’s what the people of Ross, Skye and Lochaber will want from their MP.

UPDATE: Candy Piercy was there at the time and has left this comment below:

I was an eyewitness. I was helping in Charles Kennedy’s office in Fort William when Ian Blackford walked in with three male supporters and one women. Events unfolded as Caron has already described. Mr Blackford was angry, aggressive and unpleasant, wagging his finger at us. He demanded an apology for and a retraction of, a Facebook post on Charles’ page which had described Mr Blackford as a banker.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

42 Comments

  • The appropriate response is to get out your phone, film it and post it to utube…

  • * or even on YouTube

  • @Psi

    The more appropriate thing be that it never happened in the first place.

    Five years ago I worked in an LD office that was under threat of attacks, much more extreme ones than the SNP supporters would ever, ever make. It didn’t stop us then and I’m sure nothing will stop Charles’ team now.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 15th Apr '15 - 1:32pm

    ATF, indeed it won’t. Their motivation to get such a good man re-elected was always extremely high and this will not put them up nor down.

    Psi, When you’re being shouted at and there are more of them than there are of you, your first instinct is not necessarily to get your phone out.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Apr '15 - 1:33pm

    Should make good publicity locally.

  • ATF

    “The more appropriate thing be that it never happened in the first place”

    But the people on the ground have no control over the behaviour of these wack jobs. All they can control is their response.

    My experience of the SNP is that they can be very nasty to those they perceive to be “other” so you need to be ready with a response, public exposure of their behaviour is likely to be effective. If they get a video of themselves acting in an antisocial way on private property with their names linked to it they will soon learn that these actions have consequences.

  • Caron

    “Psi, When you’re being shouted at and there are more of them than there are of you, your first instinct is not necessarily to get your phone out.”

    I agree, but the most effective response to aggression often isn’t instinctive it has to be planned in advance (self-defence for example needs to be taught so that you remember it under stress), so they should be ready for more of this and have a rapid response to aggression, that will include in the street if they are approached too. It may not be the last time.

  • This wasn’t a group of misguided activists. This was the candidate! His doorstep charm seems to have warn a bit thin and his Party should roundly condemn his behaviour today! Absolutely no excuse for aggressive behaviour. If he’s got a problem with CK’s literature he should use the proper channels but then I guess he knows it’s unlikely that any complaint would be upheld so he takes it out on the campaign staff. Unacceptable!

  • No doubt you all saw the polling that showed that 52% of SNP voters regarded a criticism of their party as a criticism of themselves. Highest figure for any other party voters was 25%. Chippy Nats indeed.

  • David

    “polling that showed that 52% of SNP voters regarded a criticism of their party as a criticism of themselves”

    No need to criticise just to showit up, put it on line. Criticism tends to be 3rd hand and people can have doubts. If anything will have an impact (and I’m not saying anything will) providing evidence and letting them judge for themselves if they want to be associated to that behaviour is your best bet.

    Even if it doesn’t cut through at first it can sink in over time.

  • Peter Chegwyn 15th Apr '15 - 3:02pm

    I understand the SNP guy was upset because a leaflet referred to him as a banker.

    He should be grateful the word ‘banker’ was spelt correctly… though judging by his behaviour other spellings may also have been appropriate.

    P.S. And if he doesn’t like being described as a ‘banker’ he should amend his own Wikipedia entry which describes him as a German banker:

    ‘He was a managing director of Deutsche Bank AG, running their operations in Scotland and Netherlands.[1]’

  • Peter Chegwyn 15th Apr '15 - 3:15pm

    P.S. The SNP’s Ian Blackford has ‘form’ having fallen out with his own SNP colleagues in the past, threatened to sue Alex Salmond for defamation, been ditched as Party Treasurer after losing a vote of no confidence, expelled from the Party, joined Labour, gone off to London to make his fortune in international banking etc.

    This Guardian article from 2000 makes great reading:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2000/jun/18/politicalnews.observerpolitics

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 15th Apr '15 - 3:28pm

    Although I’m not convinced I’d be on Alex Salmond’s side in that particular fight, either, Votes of no confidence in people’s absence….not cricket.

  • It’ll backfire. The quiet majority doesn’t like aggressive failures.

    ~alec

  • Peter Chegwyn 15th Apr '15 - 3:34pm

    Since when did the SNP play cricket?

  • Is this being reported elsewhere yet?

    ~alec

  • David Howell 15th Apr '15 - 5:55pm

    Is there any evidence of this happening other than hear-say?

    Or is this another “French letter ” type smear, with no credible evidence to back it up.

    I wonder.

  • David, you have eyewitnesses reports here.

    Was Blackford the treasurer who challenged Salmond on his taxi expenses?

    ~alec

  • Julian Gibb 15th Apr '15 - 6:53pm

    I wonder it is true?
    You do have form for embelishing stories.

  • Touche, Julian.

    Then again, during the ref, I was ‘approached’ in a similar manner by a former Nat candidate and his hangers-on, so I can believe it.

    ~alec

  • The correct spelling is “bankster”

  • I’d keep a baseball bat under the desk in case it happens again.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 15th Apr '15 - 11:19pm

    Galen, that’s going a lot too far, I think. I just think that if that’s the sort of person the candidate is, the more voters he meets the better.

  • Candy Piercy 15th Apr '15 - 11:52pm

    I was an eyewitness. I was helping in Charles Kennedy’s office in Fort William when Ian Blackford walked in with three male supporters and one women. Events unfolded as Caron has already described. Mr Blackford was angry, aggressive and unpleasant, wagging his finger at us. He demanded an apology for and a retraction of, a Facebook post on Charles’ page which had described Mr Blackford as a banker.

  • Peter Chegwyn 15th Apr '15 - 11:58pm

    The SNP candidate sounds like a nasty piece of work with a very checkered past.

    I hope Charles gives him the drubbing he deserves at the polls.

  • Robert Peffers 16th Apr '15 - 12:24am

    So we have a office open to the public and an SNP candidate who obviously, (admitted by a worker in that office), has a grievance complaining about it.
    Going by some of the stuff being claimed by all the Unionist Parties I’d say they might just be over egging their complaint. The truth is that there is far more anti-independence abuse going on that is never reported in the MSM and anti-Scots Broadcasters. Just ask the old guy in Edinburgh who had his wrist broken or the pregnant lady who was kicked in the stomach. What’s that? You never heard about it?

    EXACTLY!

  • Most of these little “atrocity stories” published on LDV turn out to be half-truths at best. This one has stood up rather better than most.

    It is slightly over-egging it to make a big fuss just because the guy raised his voice and wagged his finger. Normal voters see this sort of thing happening all the time and don’t expect to make a huge big deal of it. But that’s a quibble.

    If the guy has a proven history as a banker, and has been stupid enough to demand that the Lib Dems retract and apologise for saying so, then the best course will be to tell the voters the whole story – starting with the demand for an apology, then presenting the evidence.

    It sounds as if the Yes campaign, and the SNP, would be better off without this guy around. You might persuade some Yes voters to plump for Charles Kennedy on that basis!

  • Simon McGrath 16th Apr '15 - 11:12am

    Sound’s like the SNP are behaving with their usual charm.

    Though perhaps Kennedy should try and fight the election on policies not the previous occupations of his opponents. Plenty of LD candidates have worked for banks – does CK think people shouldn’t vote for them either ?

  • I have to agree with you, Simon. It struck precisely the wrong note with me… but, then again, it’s Blackford’s undignified response which matters more.

    ~alec

  • I really have no idea why so many nationalists see it as a personal affront that a few MPs from other parties might retain their seats – they have made such stunning progress, a little generosity of spirit wouldn’t go amiss. Am pleased Jo Swinson is refusing to be intimidated – the twitter vitriol is absurd. They can’t all live in East Dunbartonshire.

  • Robert:

    ==> Just ask the old guy in Edinburgh who had his wrist broken or the pregnant lady who was kicked in the stomach. What’s that? You never heard about it? EXACTLY!

    That’s because they didn’t happen.

    In the 18 months since James McMillan was knocked to the ground, I have found _not_ _one_ follow-up report. The only person saying it was politically motivated is McMillan. Everyone else – eyewitnesses, Police – saw a fat slob not looking where she was going and (as even McMillan admits) exchanging no words.

    The woman “kicked in the stomach” had been trying to pull a speaker (who was not connected at all to the BT campaign) down from a podium and was remarkably spritie afterwards until she saw cameras. _Someone_ else said she was pregnant not she, and she recovered as soon as an ambulance – with trained staff able to recognize injury – was called.

    ~alec

  • Well let’s see. On CK’s Twiiter feed he says that his opponent is a “well funded banker from Edinburgh ” and then goes on to ask for donations to the campaign.

    My understanding is that his opponent is funded through crowd sourcing not by any contributions from financial institutions from the Central Belt. And does it matter whether he comes from Edinburgh or anywhere else? Or indeed his job?

    Well calculated deniable smears , is that what the LD s are reduced to?

  • It matters to many voters whether their local MP has good connections to the local area, rather than being parachuted in. I’m not familiar with Mr Blackford, but the phrase does appear to be a) true and b) to have hit a sensitive spot, judging by the reaction reported above!

  • The Wikipedia article about Mr Blackford now redirects to the Ross, Skye and Lochaber UK Parliamentary Constituency page… (It’s not clear why, to be fair).

  • Jane Ann Liston 16th Apr '15 - 8:19pm

    How can coming from Edinburgh possibly be construed as a smear? I’m an Edinburgher myself.

    Strange things seem to be happening. Here in North East Fife I’ve had a dodgy phone call (at home) from a known Nationalist, while my husband was engaged in a long doorstep conversation with another lady (he hadn’t noticed the SNP sticker), who then complained to the LibDem office completely misrepresenting what he had said. It would be interesting to know if any other LibDem activists have experienced similar irritations.

  • TA-G, it’s back albeit with a Wiki caveat that it’s being considered for deletion. Prolly because he’s not significant enough.

    On the subject of SNP candidates with checkered past, check the CSER one.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/social-workers-move-in-to-care-home-after-abuse-claims-1.674754

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/exclusive-police-probe-their-own-policy-expert-985519

    ~alec

  • (Splitting this because multiple links aren’t allowed.)

    And here’s what he thinks of the majority of those he wants to represent:

    https://twitter.com/_paulmonaghan/status/489156158939492352

    For some reason I’m thinking of this ex-LD.

    http://www.whfp.com/2014/10/24/far-right-group-facebook-posts-prove-costly-for-skye-councillor/

    ~alec

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 6:09pm

    Nothing wrong with being a banker. One wonders why an SNP candidate should feel ashamed of it- Sajid Javid, who worked for the same bank, stood up to Labour criticism far better (not that I hold a brief for Tories).

    “Well-funded banker” only implies a link between the banking and the money: if he is well-funded because of crowdsourcing he is still well-funded.

  • My guess would be that this goy would complain that banking is a particular activity and while working at the bank he was not involved in “banking activity” such as you wouldn’t describe a receptionist who worked at a bank as a “banker.”

    It looks as if this guy was in a senior management role in a bank so “banker” would be a fair description, as it would be what most people would understand his role as.

  • A little bit late, but if his objection was to being referred to as “a banker”, he should perhaps update his summary on Linkedin, in which he describes himself as “an ex-investment banker”

    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ian-blackford/8/8a9/4b6

  • Richard Underhill 8th May '17 - 12:49pm

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter 12th Dec - 3:37pm
    Roland, the models predict temperature and by implication, sea rise, because the rise is due to the thermal expansion of the oceans. If the models...
  • User AvatarPeter 12th Dec - 3:19pm
    @Roland The purpose of the models is to predict future temperatures given the projected rate of increase in atmospheric CO2. We now have decades of...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 12th Dec - 3:04pm
    Peter Watson, The Liberal Democrats are a national party and should stand in every constituency. I think it is generally recognised that fighting on a...
  • User AvatarRoland 12th Dec - 2:51pm
    @Peter - What do you really mean by "predict correctly"? And at what point are you prepared to stop procrastinating and start taking action? Remember...
  • User AvatarPeter 12th Dec - 12:10pm
    @Peter Martin I agree with every word of your comment. However, I don't believe the models for several reasons. The validation of any model is...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 12th Dec - 11:40am
    John B "If the Lib Dems had followed your guidance, they would only have stood in 50 seats in this election (the only seats where...
Tue 7th Jan 2020