Ian Blackford: What is the process for choosing a new SNP Westminster leader?

Those still suffering flashbacks from the endless Conservative leadership saga can rest assured – the process for electing a new SNP Westminster chief should be relatively straightforward.

In fact, it might not even be a competition. One party insider said they would be “highly surprised” if more than one candidate put their name forward, and “highly, highly surprised” if more than two did so.

In 2017, when then-Westminster leader Angus Robertson lost his seat at the general election, four SNP MPs initially put themselves forward for the top Commons job – Ian Blackford, Joanna Cherry, Tommy Sheppard and Drew Hendry. Mr Sheppard later withdrew, citing a lack of support.

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This time round, Stephen Flynn, the MP for Aberdeen South, is understood to have it in the bag, with broad support from the party. But if someone else does throw their hat in the ring, what is the process for choosing a new Westminster leader?

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Picture date: Wednesday March 9, 2022.

The vote will take place at a party AGM on Tuesday, meaning by the time Prime Minister’s Questions kicks off the next day, we should know the result.

All 44 SNP MPs will have a vote, and candidates need both a proposer and a seconder to stand. For those interested in the geeky details, the winner will be chosen by single transferable vote.

Whoever emerges triumphant looks set to lead the party through a tumultuous couple of years, with the SNP seeking to fight the next general election as a “de-facto” referendum.



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