Blackman is an MP who evidently enjoys her reputation as a “shock jock.” This article pulls together a number of incidences of her ongoing confrontational politicking in the media against anyone possessing the temerity to challenge her views. Her irrational behaviour is a cause for concern amongst her constituents and other political observers who have noted she suffers from recurring depression due to the stressful environment she is required to work in as an MP at Westminster. It might be in her best interests if she stood down for a time.
2 Jan 2018: The Blackman Interview
Blackman, the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, is rejecting hugs. She said: “I met someone recently and we had a conversation about whether or not they would give me a hug and actually I don’t particularly want people to hug me. If somebody goes to hug me and I don’t want them to hug me, I say: “excuse me, I’d rather shake hands.”
This no-nonsense approach is characteristic of the 31-year-old, who has represented Aberdeen North since 2015. As well as being deputy leader of the SNP group in the UK parliament, Blackman speaks for her party on the economy and caught the public’s attention when she was censured by the parliamentary authorities in 2016 for bringing her two young children to a Commons committee hearing.
Blackman argues much more could be done to improve parliament as a workplace, starting with its bars. She said: “I don’t think that the problem is that we have bars because I think it is reasonable that people have somewhere that they can go in the evening and have a drink after work. What I do think is a concern for me is the way that those places are managed. I’ve worked in pubs before. There are people that come to any one of those bars that there’s no way I would have served.” I would have said: “You’re too drunk. Get out of this place. If you have them run as professional bars, rather than some kind of social club, then you have a situation where everybody is much safer.”
Her party’s other preoccupation is Brexit, on which the SNP believes it has a clearer policy than the constructive ambiguity of Labour’s. “I think the key thing that’s differentiating us from Labour at the moment is their policy on Brexit because they are in an utter shambles. The SNP have that absolute consistency that we believe we should be members of the European Union; if we’re not going to be members of the European Union we should be members of the single market and the customs union.”
She is markedly less keen to talk about Scottish independence, the SNP’s founding principle. She says she is not in Westminster to pressure the government for a referendum. “I don’t think most folks in their daily lives give two hoots about whether Scotland is a member of the union. The constitutional issues are not the biggest concern for an awful lot of people and, in fact, I very rarely talk about Scottish independence in the chamber, because I talk about things that matter to the people of Aberdeen.”
Blackman confirmed she will keep gender equality in the public eye saying: “I think there were a lot of people who came out and said: “We’ve got zero tolerance of this,” and then it kind of fizzled out. I would like this to stay as something that we’re talking about on a regular basis and I am determined not to let the sexual harassment scandal drop.”
5 Feb 2018: The SNP has failed to make the case for Scottish independence
Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North since 2015, said her party needed to accept that most voters were simply not obsessed with the independence question. She said: “There is a framing issue around it. A lot of people don’t get up in the morning and think about the union and how wonderful it is for their lives or how wonderful independence would be for their lives. Even ardent supporters of independence or unionism don’t think about those things. They get up in the morning and think ‘should I put on the washing?’ or wonder how much their shopping bills are going to cost. What we need to do is make the arguments relevant to people. That’s something politicians have struggled with and haven’t done well enough. We need to be talking about the economic benefits of independence because I believe there are lots of them and how that would impact people’s daily lives.
18 Jul 2018: Scots should do it for Nicola
Blackman said that growing the country’s population should be a key priority in the wake of a future Yes vote and this would be most easily achieved by increasing levels of immigration”. Adding: “Denmark decided it would do a thing called ‘Do It For Denmark’ and Scotland’s leaders could follow the example of other nations by encouraging more reproduction”.
1 Jul 2020: SNP deputy leader at Westminster quits her post
Kirsty Blackman quit her leadership role after saying her mental health was being adversely affected by the impact of the Covid lockdown. She indicated her intention to continue to support her constituents in Aberdeen North. She has been open about mental health in the past, tweeting in 2017 that “talking about depression is hard.”
21 Jan 2021: LGBTQ row surfaces on Twitter
Sarah Phillimore’s Twitter account was removed from the platform for allegedly violating its rules against hateful conduct. Heavily criticising the ban, Joanna Cherry, the MP for Edinburgh South West, told followers of the site that she was “calling out” Twitter for “sexism” and “human rights violations”, adding that the company’s hateful conduct policy “did not protect women.”
In response, that same day “Out for Independence”, the official LGBTQ+ wing of the SNP, posted a challenging tweet stating: “As an inclusive, intersectional organisation we condemn the support given to Sarah Phillimore by an SNP MP,” they followed up by writing: “Phillimore’s antisemitism and transphobia are not part of Scotland we want to see – bigotry in all forms must be opposed.”
Joanna replied to the tweet, labelling it grossly defamatory and in breach of the SNP code of conduct and said: “Your attacks on a prominent party representative who is also a lesbian are disgraceful.” Adding: “I’ve reported it to the party’s National Secretary & he has promised me to take urgent action.
Blackman, took a contrary view, tweeting her support for “Out for independence, she posted: “I often disagree with daft moderation policies by social media companies, but in this instance, they should be praised for censoring or banning someone for spouting transphobia or anti-Semitism, rather than criticised. Like so many in the SNP, I continue to oppose both transphobia and anti-Semitism”. Adding “I’m no QC, but for something to be defamation, doesn’t it have to be, err, untrue?”
The spat revealed the ongoing battle within the SNP over the party’s stance on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which would allow people to “self-identify” as trans or non-binary without receiving a medical diagnosis for gender dysphoria.
Stuart Smith, together with some other members of the group, recently resigned from his post as Vice-Convenor an “Out For Independence” telling followers he “could no longer morally justify staying in a party that has become a breeding ground for bigotry.”
Concerns over the resignations were raised to the party leadership and hours later, in an extraordinary intervention, Nicola Sturgeon posted a video message on Twitter, insisting that transphobia should be treated with “zero tolerance” in the party. Pointedly addressing the members who had resigned, she added: “That is not acceptable to me – as SNP leader I will do everything I can to change that impression and persuade all of you that the SNP is your party and you should come home where you belong.”
The following evening, the SNP announced that it’s National Executive Committee would convene to draw up a definition of transphobia to be added to the members’ code of conduct.
A statement signed by the Business Convenor, Kirsten Oswald, and the Depute Leader, Keith Brown, stated: “a number of members left the SNP because they did not consider the party to be a safe tolerant place for trans people. We are sorry that we’ve let you down and today pledge ourselves to change. The SNP does not and will not tolerate transphobia. We all need to have an open conversation about how we got here and how we remove the toxicity from our discussions. Discussions and debates should always be constructive and respectful. The protection of women’s rights is vital. However, transphobia under the guise of concern for women’s rights is still transphobia. Anyone can have a strongly held opinion without the need to insult, offend or display prejudice against others. And that’s the place we all need to reach. Transphobia is just as unacceptable as racism, homophobia and sexism. And trans people have as much right as anyone to feel safe, secure, valued and respected for who they are. We are an inclusive party, and we always have been. The SNP has always been a family for those who believe in independence. A number of members have recently left because they felt they were not welcome anymore. But they are. And we hope they will reconsider and re-engage. It is clear that we have work to do.
A number of initial requests will go to the NEC this weekend including the need to agree to a definition of transphobia so that all SNP members know the standard of behaviour that is expected from them. Where complaints against individuals are made on this or any issue, the National Secretary will consider these fairly and decide if further action is required. All complaints will be considered without fear or favour. For anyone thinking about leaving the party. Please talk to us before you do. We have already reached out to our youth organisations and Out for Indy to allow those affected to talk to us directly about their concerns. We know we have work to do. So please help us shape the future of the SNP. Let’s work to get towards a more progressive equal independent Scotland.” (Scotsman)
1 Feb 2021: Joanne Cherry sacked from SNP frontbench at Westminster
Joanna Cherry, an advocate and queen’s counsel and one of Nicola Sturgeon’s fiercest internal critics, has been sacked from the Scottish National Party’s frontbench at Westminster after a public feud with its former deputy leader Kirsty Blackman.
The former spokesperson for home affairs hit out at her Westminster colleagues and party leadership over its strategy on independence and implied that she would continue criticising party leaders from her new position on the party’s ruling national executive. She tweeted: “Westminster is increasingly irrelevant to Scotland’s constitutional future and the SNP would do well to radically rethink our strategy.”
Joanna was elected to the national executive as one of the most senior SNP activists openly critical of Sturgeon’s cautious approach to staging a second referendum and of her stance on transgender rights. A supporter of “gender critical” campaigners, she also has close links to the Women’s Pledge grouping of SNP activists who won seats on the national executive and other party committees who argue that the Scottish government’s measures to strengthen the rights and protections for trans people are eroding rights for women.
She also clashed with Kirsty Blackman, the SNP’s former deputy leader at Westminster, over the SNP’s policies on trans rights. It was not the first time the two had disagreed on the subject on social media. Blackman, who quit as Commons deputy leader last year and is now an economy spokesperson, said on Twitter that trans people and their supporters were leaving the SNP because of Cherry’s behaviour and that of senior party figures, and then said: “Things have moved on since the 80s.” To which Joanna responded that she had done nothing to set back the rights of trans people. The MP, herself a lesbian, further accused Blackman of breaching the SNP’s code of conduct with her tweet, adding: “I’ll ignore the ageism as I wouldn’t expect a privileged young straight woman to know what it was like for lesbians in the 80s.”
The Day after, Sturgeon broadcast a video on Twitter, in her role as SNP leader, insisting that transphobia had no place in her party and adding that there had been a number of resignations by younger party members critical of the perception the Scottish government had been diluting pro-trans measures in recent legislation.
8 Mar 2021: Blackman tweeted: Having had to resign as deputy leader last year due to my health and scaling back my work in Parliament dramatically I am now ramping it up again.
28 Apr 2021: Blackman speaks about depression
Appearing in person in the Commons after more than a year she told MPs: “This is the first time that I’ve stood in this House to speak since January 2020. During the past year and a bit, I’ve been battling with the black dog of depression.
4 Oct 2021: Blackman demands Joanna Cherry’s sacking
Yet more confirmation of the bitter rift between them was revealed when Blackman shared a public message demanding the sacking from the Party of her colleague in a deepening row over gender and trans rights. It also showed how the wider debate on women’s rights, transgender issues and the right for gender self-ID is causing splits in the SNP.
Blackman deleted her demand later in the day but apparently unrepentant added: “I am clear though, the SNP needs to do more to tackle internal transphobia, including sanctioning or expelling those in the party who are transphobic.”
Joanna responded on social media, saying: “As a lesbian and a feminist I’ve spent a lifetime campaigning for equality and to be clear I support trans rights. What I don’t support is the right of any man to self-ID as a woman and access the single-sex spaces which the Equality Act protects for women and girls.”
24 Oct 2021: SNP researcher has been suspended from the Commons
Jonathan Kiehlmann retweeted an extremist post advocating armed violence against women who defend their rights under the Equality Act. His behaviour was particularly sickening because he retweeted the repellent tweet just one day after the murder of MP David Amess.
The incident occurred in the week when Blackman, branded an LGB gathering across the road from Parliament a “hate conference” knowing that her colleague Joanna Cherry and several other MPs & peers would be attending.
Blackman even showed up to join a picket of the conference although she later tried to laugh it off and pretend she was just having her photograph taken.
Guess who the armed violence against women used to work for in the House of Commons? Blackman of course. And the real scandal is that the hate-mongering MP for Aberdeen North hasn’t received so much as a slapped wrist from her Party. (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1452228971328851973.html)
5 Nov 2021: SNP MP facing calls to resign after apology for ‘abhorrent’ post about suicide
Facing sanctions for breaching lobbying rules and following the suicide of his wife Rose, Owen Paterson, made the “painful decision” to resign his position as MP for North Shropshire. The day after Blackman, in a brutal political attack on the Tory politician included an ‘appalling’ reference to his late wife’s suicide: “Missed your bus because your wife committed suicide and so you were two minutes late to your jobcentre appointment? – Lobby the Government on behalf of companies who pay you £9k a month? oh, you poor lamb, no sanction for you.” Blackman later retracted the tweet after a sustained backlash from appalled Twitter users and said: “After some reflection, I have deleted a tweet I made earlier. I offer my unreserved apologies for tweeting it, particularly to anyone who may have been upset or offended. I’m sorry.”
29 Nov 2021: Ministers urged to probe LGBTI charity in a row over ‘online hostility’ against gay MP
Joanna Cherry has written to Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, asking her to get officials to “investigate and report” on the Equality Network’s decision to publish a tweet that the MP says resulted in a “large volume of hostile communications” aimed at her.
It stems from a row when it was claimed Joanna had endorsed conversion therapy sometimes called “reparative therapy” or “gay cure therapy,” the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In a tweet, she said: “Reconversion therapy which any right-thinking person should oppose we must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with gender dysphoria to feel comfortable in their birth sex.”
Blackman tweeted that she had complained about Joanna “through the proper channels, repeatedly, for years” and yet it had “resulted in nothing happening and these views still being expressed – and still causing harm to so many people.”
The Equality Network which receives around 90% of its near 530K funding from the SNP Government also shared a picture of Joanna’s tweet, adding the comment: “apparently we must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help lesbian & gay patients to feel comfortable in a mixed-sex relationship. Conversion therapy is harmful and wrong whether it’s trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or their gender identity.”
In her letter to Robison, Joanna said this was an “abhorrent statement which I had not, and would never make about the use of conversion therapy in relation to the sexual orientation of lesbians and gay men.” Adding: “The statement had been placed in quotation marks above an image of my earlier tweet; it was clearly intended to attribute this view to me.” She went on to say that the decision to put the offensive words in quotation marks led to “numbers of people assuming that those were a direct quote from me. Such a reading could have been easily anticipated. That impression and the more general association of my original statement with this offensive view undoubtedly contributed to the large volume of hostile communications I’ve received this week.”
Joanna then said the taxpayer-funded organisation had behaved “recklessly” and urged Robison to “make it clear to the organisation as a matter of urgency that this was inappropriate behaviour and to obtain reassurances from it that it will now manage its communications in a way that prevents any similar occurrence. MPs, MSPs and others engaging in debates about policy and law should not expect government-funded organisations to go out of their way to generate online hostility towards them. Yet that is what happened here. I suggest the SNP Government, as its funder, should seek an apology to me from the Equality Network for its action here.” (Holyrood)
Blackman attacks LGB Alliance
Hardly befitting conduct of a sitting MP to castigate the UK’s only charity formed on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s astounding that a sitting MP can label a charity based on protected characteristics a hate organisation. It doesn’t look like the SNP are capable of ensuring their MP’s, Councillors, or indeed, Researchers live up to standards that don’t bring Parliament into disrepute. (https://voidifremoved.substack.com/p/smearing-the-lgb-alliance.)