THE race to succeed Ian Blackford as the SNP’s Westminster leader has entered its final stages as MPs weigh up the two candidates – many of whom say are equally talented.

There is little of the mud-slinging we saw in the Tory leadership race, with many MPs playing their cards close to their chests, keen to avoid the appearance of splits within the party.

But at around 6pm on Tuesday, there will be division behind closed doors as MSPs cast their electronic ballots to adopt their new leader.   

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Many MPs have told The National they will not be commenting on or off the record about the race. And because it is a confidential online ballot, they are under no obligation to say who they are backing.

Here is an (incomplete) list of who is backing who: 

Stephen Flynn’s camp

Flynn officially declared he was running after Alison Thewliss, who was caught up in the disruption at Glasgow Airport on Monday, officially launched her campaign. He has been seen as the favourite to replace Blackford after it was revealed he was gathering support for a leadership challenge against his former boss.

He is seen as being less close to the SNP leadership in Edinburgh and has previously argued against an oil and gas windfall tax.


  • Stewart Hosie, Dundee East – Former deputy SNP Westminster leader, Hosie was Flynn’s proposer for the role
  • Amy Callaghan, East Dunbartonshire – The SNP’s pensions spokesperson in Westminster, her comments in support of Patrick Grady during his groping scandal prompted condemnation from the First Minister. She seconded Flynn’s nomination
  • Mhairi Black, Paisley and Renfrewshire South – The SNP’s Scotland spokesperson in Westminster, Black has not come out publicly in support for Flynn but is reportedly being considered for his deputy
  • Douglas Chapman, Dunfermline and West Fife – Known to be close to defector Kenny MacAskill, Chapman was rumoured in 2021 to be considering joining Alex Salmond’s party but never ultimately made the move. He also bucked a wider trend within the group by attending the Supreme Court for its indyref2 verdict – something the party leadership were understood to have advised against in the absence of guidance from Westminster. He confirmed to The National he was backing Flynn.

Alison Thewliss 

Thewliss is the party’s Treasury spokesperson, and the MP for Glasgow Central. She launched her bid for the leadership on Saturday night after discussions with colleagues.

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Allies have portrayed her as a “unity” candidate and someone who is able to broach the divides within the Westminster party.

She is also seen as being close to the First Minister and has been backed by people in Sturgeon’s inner circle including Mhairi Hunter and Nikita Bassi.


  • Chris Law, Dundee West – One of Thewliss’s nominees for the leadership, Law is the party’s international development spokesperson and is perhaps best known for touring Scotland in his Spirit of Independence van during the 2014 referendum campaign
  • Stuart McDonald, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East – McDonald is running as Thewliss’s deputy and currently shadows Home Secretary Suella Braverman as part of the SNP frontbench
  • Stewart McDonald, Glasgow South – One of the early backers of Thewliss, McDonald has emphasised her hard work and “commitment to the cause”
  • Pete Wishart, Perth and North Perthshire – The SNP’s longest-serving MP in Westminster and a powerful name to have in her corner, Wishart has given endorsements to not only Thewliss but her prospective deputy McDonald