ALISON Thewliss’s campaign to take over as the SNP’s Westminster leader is gathering steam as a number of influential figures within the party gave her their backing.

The Glasgow Central MP threw her hat into the ring on Saturday night in a shock move which blocked Stephen Flynn’s previously clear path to succeed Ian Blackford.

If successful Thewliss would become the first woman to lead the SNP in Westminster, other than Winnie Ewing who was the party’s sole representative in London from 1967 to 1970.

She has also secured the backing of the SNP’s longest-serving MP Pete Wishart (below) and was nominated by Dundee MP Chris Law.

The National: All Under Banner march for independence, Perth. Pictured are Pete Wishart MP, left and John Swinney MSP.

  Photograph by Colin Mearns
7 September 2019

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Thewliss also appears to have the support of figures close to close to the party leadership, including Nicola Sturgeon staffer Nikita Bassi and former councillor Mhairi Hunter, an organiser in the First Minister’s constituency party.

SNP frontbencher Stewart McDonald (below) gave his backing to Thewliss, currently the party’s treasury spokesperson, pointing to her “justified reputation for hard work, commitment to the cause and connecting with the public”.

He added: “She’s a team player who always plays for the jersey.”

The National:

Wishart said: “Alison is a team player who gets things done with a proven track record of taking on this Government. The right person at the right time to lead our group at Westminster.”

It comes after Richard Thomson, the MP for Gordon said there was an “emerging consensus” around Flynn taking the top job.

He told the BBC last week he would be “astonished” if anyone challenged the Aberdeen South MP adding: “There is an emerging consensus, shall we say that Stephen is somebody with the talent and ability to move us forward over the next period and I think that’s who most people in the group would be looking to.”

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But a source close to Thewliss told The National that she has the power to unite the party – which has been damaged by fissures on trans rights and the timing and strategy of a second independence referendum.

The MP said: “Given some of the stuff that has been floating around recently about in the past few days about do we need to more independence from Holyrood, is there too much Edinburgh control? I think correctly she just has no interest in that discussion. The party is only ever at its best when it is united …

“She’s not approaching this through the lens of thinking ‘well that person’s in that camp, or that person is in that clique or that person’s of that view’.

“Whether that’s the Alba split, whether that’s the GRA issue or on timing and strategy and all that sort of thing, Alison isn’t associated with any of that stuff, she’s kind of above it all. She’s just not interested in doing politics like that”.

Flynn is seen as being less close with SNP HQ and is reported to have clashed with Sturgeon on issues in the past.