A shocking defection ahead of SNP conference
Lisa Cameron, a Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, has announced that she is leaving the party and joining the Conservatives in a stunning and unprecedented move. She said she was unhappy with the “toxic and bullying” culture of the SNP Westminster group and the lack of support from the party leadership. She also said she wanted to focus on “constructive policies that benefit everyone” in the UK, rather than the “division” of independence.
The background of Lisa Cameron’s decision
Ms Cameron has been the MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow since 2015. She is a clinical psychologist and has been vocal about mental health issues. She has also been a supporter of Brexit and voted against triggering Article 50 in 2017. She has faced criticism from some SNP members for her views and her voting record.
Ms Cameron has also claimed that she was a victim of “group bullying” at Westminster and suffered panic attacks as a result. She said she was shunned by other SNP MPs after challenging the support given to former chief whip Patrick Grady, who was suspended from the House of Commons and apologised in Parliament after being found to have acted inappropriately towards a party staffer.
Last month, it emerged that a Scottish Government minister had backed another party worker, Grant Costello, who was challenging Ms Cameron to be the next SNP candidate in her seat at the general election.
The reaction from the Prime Minister and the Scottish Conservative leader
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed Ms Cameron’s defection, saying that she was a “brave and committed constituency MP”. He said: “Lisa is right that we should aim to do politics better, with more empathy and less division and a dedication to always doing what we think is right.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross also expressed his delight at having Ms Cameron on board. He said on Twitter: “It’s great to have Lisa Cameron on board. The @ScotTories will stand up for everyone who has been forgotten by the SNP to get the focus on to Scotland’s real priorities.”
The response from the SNP and other parties
The SNP said Ms Cameron should resign from her seat and allow a by-election, as her constituents had elected an SNP MP not a Tory. An SNP spokeswoman said: “The people of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow will be appalled they are now represented a Conservative and Unionist MP. Lisa Cameron should now do the right thing and step down to allow a by-election. Her constituents elected an SNP MP not a Tory, and they deserve to have the democratic opportunity to elect a hard working SNP MP who will put the interests of Scotland first. On a personal basis, we wish her well.”
Some SNP MPs also reacted with fury to her defection. One said it was “malicious, but not a surprise”.
Labour MP Ian Murray said: “This bizarre move shows that the SNP is falling apart before our eyes. The fact is that the SNP and the Tories are two sides of the same coin – putting the cause of division before the needs of the people.”
The implications for Scottish politics and the independence debate
Ms Cameron’s defection comes just days before the SNP is due to hold its annual conference in Aberdeen, where it is expected to discuss its plans for another independence referendum. It also comes amid growing tensions within the party over its leadership, strategy and policies.
Ms Cameron’s decision could have an impact on the balance of power at Westminster, where the SNP is currently the third largest party with 46 MPs. It could also affect the public perception of the SNP and its credibility as a pro-independence party.
Ms Cameron’s move could also signal a shift in some voters’ attitudes towards independence, as she said she had experienced “significant division” in her family over the issue. She said she wanted to “move towards healing these divisions for the collective good”.
What will happen next?
Ms Cameron said she would be taking time to recuperate from her ordeal and would continue to serve her constituents as a Conservative MP. She thanked everyone who had reached out to her and supported her decision.
However, it is likely that she will face a backlash from some of her former colleagues and supporters, who may feel betrayed by her switch. She may also face legal challenges from the SNP over her seat and her expenses.
It remains to be seen how Ms Cameron’s defection will affect the political landscape in Scotland and the UK, especially as both countries prepare for crucial elections next year.
Will Ms Cameron be able to retain her seat as a Tory? Will more SNP MPs follow her example? Will this change the course of Scottish independence? These are some of the questions that will be on many people’s minds as they watch this drama unfold.