Ian Blackford 'perplexed' by Labour attack ads and claims party going for 'lowest common denominator'

Ian Blackford has claimed he is “perplexed” by Labour’s attack ads and suggested the party is going for the “lowest common denominator”.

The former SNP Westminster leader suggested the controversial adverts, the first of which accuses Rishi Sunak of not wanting child sex abusers to go to prison, were unlikely to have been Sir Keir Starmer’s idea, and urged all parties to be “careful” how they campaigned.

Speaking to The Scotsman, the SNP big beast warned British politics had become ugly, and these sorts of campaigns should be dropped.

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He said: "I'm kind of perplexed as I don’t think this is Keir. I don't think for a minute this is him unless something has changed. At the end of the day I think our politics is in a bad place, we've declined massively over the last couple of years and this doesn't help it.

Ian Blackford, former SNP Westminster Leader condemned the Labour adverts.Ian Blackford, former SNP Westminster Leader condemned the Labour adverts.
Ian Blackford, former SNP Westminster Leader condemned the Labour adverts.

"I wouldn't do it, I would encourage them to think very carefully as to what they're doing. We all know there's a rough and tumble to politics but you've got to be quite careful. I find a lot of what the Tories do to be quite unpleasant, there's a way to do it and this isn't it.

“I think what you've seen over the small boats, I think to an extent Labour is keeping an eye on the red wall seats and going for the lowest comment denominator."

Another MP told this paper the “public didn’t like” campaigns like this, speaking as the latest advert targeted Mr Sunak’s wife’s previous non-dom tax status.

They suggested the adverts had been done before, but that didn’t make them right.

The MP said: “I think the public think it’s petty and it damages all politics. They would much rather we focused on doing things than taking pot shots at one each other.

“I can still remember as a student, Margaret Thatcher’s attack ads on Michael Foot, which were incredibly clever. It was a balloon that said inflation with a foot pump.

“They were so clever, and there was the one that was the great big unemployment office that said Labour wasn’t working.

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“The Conservatives have done them before, they have worked, but the problem with this one is all the backlash, and all the fact checking that is going on.

“Labour are probably quite happy with it because it had gone viral and they hadn’t had to pay any advertising, but it doesn’t say anything positive about Labour.

“I am not an advertising expert but if you are going to run negative ads but you also need to give people a reason to vote for you.”

However, other MPs expressed surprise at the backlash. They said: “I’m amazed at all the pearl clutching. “I don’t like it and it’s not to my taste or style, but I’m just amazed at how shocked people are.”

Senior figures including former home secretary Lord David Blunkett called for it to be withdrawn, saying Labour is better than “gutter” politics.

It came as Sir Keir continued to defend Labour’s controversial attack adverts.

During a visit to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, the Labour leader told broadcasters: “I make no apologies for highlighting the failures of this Government.

“They’ve broken our NHS, they’ve broken our economy. And this argument that because they’ve changed prime minister five times, that somehow the prime minister doesn’t bear responsibility for 13 years of grief for many, many people, I just don’t think stacks up.”

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Pressed on the latest ad, which targets Akshata Murty’s previous non-dom tax status, Sir Keir said: “Nobody is targeting the Prime Minister’s wife.

“Behind these adverts is a basic truth – that they have broken our criminal justice system, broken our NHS and broken our economy.”



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