The One SNP MP Made Redundant

Gethins says: “As long as Boris Johnson chooses to block a second referendum, it only boosts support for Scottish independence.”

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 13/01/2020 Available:  [Accessed: 2020, Jan 14] 

From almost every vantage point, the Scottish National Party did extremely well in General Election 2019 but there was one person for whom there was a less than positive outcome and that was former North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins, who lost his seat after representing the constituency for four and a half years. As the 48 MPs lined up outside the V&A Museum in Dundee on Saturday 14th December, Gethins was the one notable absentee as the only SNP MP in Scotland to lose his seat.

Last week, Stephen and I met next to the V&A. He said: “It is disappointing not to be back but it was good to see the party do extremely well.” Describing the most difficult part of the loss, he says: “People feel for the MP but making redundant a team of exceptional staff is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. We are going through that process right now.” He paid tribute to the unsung heroes of his staff team: Lindsey Alexander, Rhuaraidh Fleming, Kirsty Watson, Rhona McLaren and Callum Riddle.

Since North East Fife became a seat in 1983, a Conservative, Liberal Democrat and SNP MP have represented the constituency but it is most associated with the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell. Having retained the seat by two votes in 2017, after three recounts, Gethins knew it was a Lib Dem target. Despite securing 4,704 more votes than in 2017, the Conservative vote share dropped more than any other UK seat in which they stood, aiding tactical voting and a Lib Dem win.

On Scottish independence, Gethins says: “As long as Boris Johnson chooses to block a second referendum, it only boosts support for independence.” He adds: “The Tories are intent on implementing their form of Brexit, which is going to have a detrimental effect on people across the UK but we, in Scotland, should have an opportunity to choose a different route.” When I remind him that the Prime Minister can simply continue to refuse, Gethins responds: “That is a very hard position to hold.”

While he does not rule out standing as a Member of the Scottish Parliament in 2021, he is enjoying spending time with his wife and two young children, aged five and two, whom he says have borne the brunt of the political sacrifice. He says: “Now is a time for reflection for us and considering what I personally want to do next but what I am really looking forward to doing, for the first time in a long time, is going to Tannadice to see my team in action.” He concludes saying: “It’s been far too long.”