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The Dinwoodie Interview

NOW that the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford is getting plenty of exposure, thanks to the Mother of Parliaments devouring its own entrails over Brexit, most folk may think they have the measure of the man but many of their preconceptions will be wrong.

His appearance – his suits, sometimes three-piece or pinstriped, the cut-away collars and the ties that can have a regimental or old school look – foster the image of the usual shorthand of him as a wealthy Edinburgh banker now dabbling at being a crofter, and indeed on rising to speak in the Commons before Christmas he was admonished by Sir Nicholas Soames to “get back to Skye.” But while he was indeed born in the capital and assuredly did have a long and successful career in financial services, and does now support his wife in working the same croft on Skye which her greatgrandfather once worked, he was certainly not born into privilege in 1961.

Indeed his first eight years were spent not in the New Town or the Grange but in the heart of Trainspotting territory. Oxcars Court, an 11-storey block of council maisonettes in Muirhouse was the first Blackford family home. There, it must be admitted, the resemblance to an Irvine Welsh plot ends (except for a shared passion for Hibernian FC). His father, Alex was a sales rep for Cussons, the soap manufacturer, and his mother, Betty was a bookkeeper at the Student Union at Heriot-Watt University. They had a second son, Paul, a year after Ian and a third, David, seven years later, at which point the family secured a move to the Carrick Knowe area of the city. The older sons continued at Davidson’s Mains Primary and when the family moved again four years later to Blackhall, their eldest son was able to move up to the Royal High School with his classmates, to his great relief.

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