SNP leadership is not autocratic, says Angus Robertson

Angus Robertson has denied the leadership of the SNP is autocratic, following concerns from some party members over the contest to find a new depute leader.

Angus Robertson stepped down from the role of depute leader on Saturday. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Robertson, who stood down from the position over the weekend, rubbished reports that some in the party wanted his successor to be more assertive and “stand up” to leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Ian Blackford, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, emerged over the weekend as the strong favourite to replace the former MP for Moray.

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But some in the party are against an effective ‘coronation’ which could see no SNP heavyweights standing against the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

In an interview with BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Robertson said he was reluctant to “stick an oar in” by making any suggestions about his successor.

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Responding to claims of an autocratic leadership style in the party, he said: “Whoever is saying that has obviously never worked with Nicola Sturgeon.

“I’ve had the good fortune that we’ve known each other since we were 15 or 16 years old and one of the things that I know mystifies other political parties where they tend to fight each other the whole time and not get on, is that in the SNP we actually like each other, we work well together.

“There is a very collegiate leadership within the SNP and it involves a much wider circle of people than some political opponents and maybe even some journalists imagine, and my experience of working with Nicola Sturgeon is not just on a political level but just as a human being and as a friend (she’s) always reachable, always happy to talk and always happy to listen to advice, especially when there’s a different view on something.

“The difference is, we just tend to do that better than other political parties, which I know mystifies our political opponents and some journalists.”

SNP MSP Alex Neil, a former cabinet minister, called on Monday for an open contest in which the future direction of the party could be debated.

“My view is the more the merrier,” he told The Times. “It’s better to have a competition and a proper debate, and there is a debate to be had about where we go from here, and give us a choice.”

James Dornan, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, yesterday became the first SNP member to publicly announce plans to stand for the role since Mr Robertson stood down, eight months after losing his seat at the general election.