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Is Mhairi Black Westminster’s laziest MP?

Credit: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

The dust is settling after the SNP Westminster group’s deputy leader announced she would be standing down at the next election — but has Mhairi Black’s record in parliament been scrutinised quite enough? Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon says she is ‘gutted’ about Black’s departure, while FM Humza Yousaf called Black a ‘trailblazer’. But Mr S isn’t so sure they should be all that sad to see the back of her…

It appears the Westminster group’s deputy leader has more bark than bite. Of all the SNP’s 2015 intake who remain in parliament, Black has made the fewest spoken contributions — and by a rather large margin.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has taken part in 1,197 debates, while Alan Brown has spoken in 1,148. Philippa Whitford has spoken 1,384 times and Carol Monaghan 1,008 across more than 600 debates each. Black’s spoken contributions, however, span a mere 134 debates and come in at a rather underwhelming number of, er, 247. Dear oh dear. Maybe her habit of uttering foul obscenities was simply an over-employed distraction technique…

The politician says that the ‘toxic’ culture of Westminster drove Black out — but perhaps she just couldn’t cope with the hard slog. Certainly some of her colleagues were rather surprised at her statement last week. One SNP insider told Mr S that if anyone was responsible for creating a ‘toxic’ workplace, it was Black herself. Another said that it was odd she felt so strongly about Westminster, given she was hardly there…

It’s been a bad week for the nationalists, what with the suspension of Salmond ally Angus MacNeil after a bust up with the party’s chief whip.

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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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