Steerpike Steerpike

Fact check: is Ian Blackford really a ‘humble crofter’?

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Mr S enjoyed the spectacle of the SNP’s orotund Westminster Ian Blackford claiming at this week’s PMQs that he is a ‘member of Scotland’s crofter community.’ The Edinburgh-born ex-banker provoked much laughter with the claim about his smallholding which he cited to justify an attack on Boris Johnson for ‘planning to throw our farmers and crofters under the Brexit bus.’

A similar claim back in 2018 that he was merely a ‘humble crofter’ prompted fellow former financier Greg Hands to remark: ‘I had a career in the City and I don’t recall him being a simple crofter at that time. Maybe that was his codename on his Bloomberg terminal as he was buying and selling financial assets.’

But as the Herald’s Unspun column today asks, which crofting community can Blackford be referring to? The former party treasurer has two homes on Skye, one of which is currently on sale for offers around £400,000. An advert for the ‘substantial detached four bedroom property’ extols the virtues of the ‘beautifully extended former croft house set within generous garden grounds’ – note the use of the word ‘former’ there.

Blackford’s other home appears a tad too rustic for his tastes, with the MP recently applying to have it extended by adding a ‘utility room close to the kitchen and a larger bedroom upstairs with useable headroom and wardrobe storage space’. What better way to maintain the great crofting tradition?

And while David Cameron made do with a shepherd’s hut, Blackford’s preferences are a little less pastoral – he applied to add a corrugated metal Nissen hut measuring an impressive 12m by 7m. Steerpike suspects if there is anyone in Westminster betraying Scotland’s crofting tradition, it might well be Ian Blackford and his rather grandiose claims.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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