What Stephen Flynn says led to SNP’s 'loss of trust' with voters

A disastrous election night has left the party with just nine MPs

The SNP’s “internal difficulties” led to people feeling the party was detached from their daily lives, Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said as he reflected on the party’s heavy General Election defeat.

A disastrous election night for the SNP saw the party fall to nine MPs, down from 48 in 2019, losing in the entirety of Scotland’s central belt.

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Senior figures in the party have been airing their opinions on the reasons for the losses, with ousted MP Joanna Cherry laying the blame at former leader Nicola Sturgeon’s door.

SNP's Stephen Flynn at P&J Live arena in Aberdeen. Picture: PA WireSNP's Stephen Flynn at P&J Live arena in Aberdeen. Picture: PA Wire
SNP's Stephen Flynn at P&J Live arena in Aberdeen. Picture: PA Wire
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Former Westminster leader Ian Blackford gave a cautious backing to John Swinney’s leadership but said voters had sent the SNP a “very clear message”.

Mr Flynn was re-elected in Aberdeen South but his majority was reduced to 3,758, as Scottish Labour finished second in the constituency.

In an article written for the Daily Record, he said the SNP must be guided by the “brutal honesty” of the election results.

He said: “We were beaten and we were beaten well – we can’t and we won’t run away from that truth.

“Honesty and humility is the only response with any hope of winning back those who voted for others or those who decided to stay at home.”

The Aberdeen South MP said it would take time to understand the defeat but it was clear the party’s difficulties in recent years had contributed.

He continued: “The distraction of dealing with our own internal difficulties has meant people began to feel that we were detached from their daily lives and lived experience.

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“We have lost trust and it’s our job, and our job alone, to win it back.”

Mr Flynn backed Mr Swinney’s leadership and said it was right to “genuinely congratulate” Sir Keir Starmer on his victory.

The SNP MP added: “We don’t agree that stability means change and we don’t believe it will fix Britain.

“Those are the fundamentals of why we still believe in independence.”

Meanwhile, former SNP minister Alex Neil repeated his call for Mr Swinney to resign.

He told The Herald that a new leader who was “not associated with the Sturgeon/Swinney years of failure” should be put in place over the summer.

He said: “The only two people who we have there are Kate Forbes and Stephen Flynn. My view is that Swinney should hand over to that new generation.”

But Deputy First Minister Ms Forbes backed Mr Swinney to revitalise the party’s fortunes.

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“Competence and integrity must be the hallmark of our leadership and it’s certainly the two words that have been on John Swinney’s lips prior to the election, throughout the election and now in the aftermath of the election,” she said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

“Those are two flags, as it were, that need to be planted on everything that we do and I believe John Swinney is the leader to do that and I am very pleased to be supporting him in his mission to achieve that.”

Following Ms Sturgeon’s resignation in March last year, Humza Yousaf became SNP leader and First Minister after a leadership contest which exposed divisions in the party.

He stepped down after just over a year in the job as he dealt with the backlash of his decision to suddenly end the powersharing agreement with the Scottish Greens.

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