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Sketch: A transcendent Ian Blackford fails to convince Bernard Ponsonby

Credit: Iain Green

Sketch: A transcendent Ian Blackford fails to convince Bernard Ponsonby

Patrick Grady has stepped away from his membership of the SNP, but he has not resigned. He is no longer an SNP MP, but he has not been suspended. He no longer represents the party, but he may represent the party in the future. Is that all clear? No?

Well, it’s quite simple really. “Patrick Grady is stepping away from his party membership,” said an SNP spokesperson. But “stepping away” is not resigning because “resigning is for people who want to leave,” a source later explained. He is no longer a member of the SNP despite the fact he has neither quit the party nor been suspended. And he isn’t an SNP MP because “he can’t hold the SNP Whip while he doesn’t hold SNP membership,” the party helpfully added.

What do you mean it’s still not clear? He isn’t a member of the SNP but he did not resign nor was he thrown out. He is Schrodinger’s MP.

Perhaps this was what the First Minister was talking about when she said she assumed a “certain level of intelligence” when communicating. The SNP has ascended to a higher plane of existence. Mere mortals cannot hope to fathom the meaning – just accept that they have a greater understanding of the world and all its nuance.

Certainly, this would explain why so many people were left baffled by Ian Blackford’s interview with STV’s Bernard Ponsonby.

“Ian Blackford, is a sex pest fit to be an MP?” asked the seasoned journalist.

Blackford, looking rather sanguine about the whole affair, took a deep breath, shut his two eyes and opened his third. Channeling all the powers of the universe around him, he began: “I think it’s important that in parliament we make it clear that there has to be zero tolerance of bad behaviour.” Bad behaviour? We are talking about an MP who sexually harassed a teenage member of staff, not a toddler having a temper tantrum.

Non-plussed, the transcendent Westminster leader continued: “A few years ago, parliament set up a complaints procedure – the ICGS process. I was delighted actually that I was part of the process in setting that up. All the party leaders with the then Prime Minister did that.” His voice took on several new tones as the powers of some omniscient being flowed through him. He was practically glowing.

“Parliament has got to be a safe place for people to come and work, and as the leader of the SNP at Westminster I’ve got a particular responsibility to staff, and I hope over the course of the five years that I’ve been leader that I’ve discharged that, that I’ve demonstrated to staff the importance I place in making sure that…”

“I understand that, but you’ve given me a procedural answer to a question that I did not ask,” Ponsonby interjected. Blackford blinked his two eyes open, dismayed by the interruption. Mere mortals were not meant to stand in the way of higher beings. Ponsonby continued, undeterred: “I will pose the question again: is it permissible for a sex pest to be a member of parliament?”

The moment had been lost. The veil to the next realm, temporarily lifted, had firmly swung shut again and all that was left was a humble crofter. “What’s important, Bernard, is that due process takes place. There is a due, independent process…” Blackford fumbled.

“And it has taken place and there’s been a two-day suspension,” said Ponsonby. “Let’s not go back over the procedure.”

“I’m not going over the procedure,” Blackford stuttered.

Ponsonby: “Answer my question.”

Blackford: “I am answering the question, I’m not…”

Ponsonby: “Is it permissible for a sex pest to be an MP? Yes or no?”

Blackford: “The simple fact of the matter is, under the process, Patrick Grady was found guilty of inappropriate behaviour and he was suspended from parliament for two days. That was the decision that parliament took. I uphold the decisions of that parliamentary process.”

It was almost possible to hear Ponsonby’s eyeroll. He put his hand on his hip, leant forward. “I’m not asking you about the parliamentary process,” he says – Blackford mumbles “but that’s important” under his breath – and then continues: “I am asking you, as the leader of the SNP, is it permissible for a sex pest to be a member of parliament: yes or no?”

“Patrick Grady was found guilty and that has led to a suspension of him from parliament for two days.”

Ponsonby translates: “So the answer to my question is yes, it is permissible.”

Blackford, looking less like he’s on a higher plane of existence and more like he wants to be on a plane to literally anywhere else, insists that’s not the case. Something, something, due process, he mutters.

Beads of sweat run down his forehead. He looks about, panicked. At this point, he knows all is lost. Finally, he admits: “I have no powers.” There is no higher plane, only the smoke and mirrors of a carnival clairvoyant.

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