Inflation. Energy spikes. Tax hikes. Low growth. It’s a tough time for hard-pressed Britons at present. The cost of living crisis has begun to bite and millions are starting to suffer. But not to worry: in these dark times, one man has emerged to champion the destitute and the needy. Step forward, Ian Blackford, the doughty defender of the dispossessed, who used yesterday’s Prime Ministers’ Questions to take up the cudgels of the nation’s underclass. The SNP’s Westminster leader – posing as a kind of Scottish Martin Lewis – inquired of Boris Johnson, with trembling lip, how British families are expected to afford April’s energy price spike.
Noble stuff, even if Blackford’s own leader Nicola Sturgeon appears to have few ideas beyond a £4-a-week rebate for families. Of course, if the SNP really wanted to cut the cost of living, they could consider stop wasting millions on failing shipyards and botched airport sales. Still, what Blackford lacks in initiative, he more than makes up for in ingenuity. The sexagenarian Scot has managed to forge a multi-million pound empire out of various investment posts, leveraging his fortune to build a political career at Westminster too. So, in this new era of hair shirts and tightened belts, Mr S is delighted to bring you his tips and tricks from Ian Blackford’s rise to riches. If you follow these six simple steps, this time next year, you too could be a millionaire…
1. Don’t let principles hold you back
Blackford is a lifelong nationalist, who joined the SNP in his adolescence. But like any good entrepreneur, he didn’t let his support for Scottish independence interfere with his quest for riches. Blackford spent twenty years at the heart of the City of London during the heyday of Thatcherism, accumulating the fortune he enjoys to this day. And that open-minded flexibility has been a hallmark of the SNP man’s subsequent political career.
During the Brexit years, he emerged as a Remain pin-up star, with his endless rants bemoaning a nation’s desire for self-determination. Yet throughout that time he appeared more than happy to fatten his wallet south of the border, enjoying £3,250 from Golden Charter Trust: a company not registered in Scotland but in St James’s, London. The company, where Blackford was both a shareholder and chair of the Trustee Board, concluded that ‘the Trustees do not consider that the issue of Brexit will have any significant impact on the Trust.’ Not that you’d know it from the way the former merchant banker for Deutsche Bank carried on.
2. Maintain your side-hustles
As Molly-Mae once preached ‘Everyone has the same 24 hours in the same day.’ And Blackford has put his to good use, judging by the number of second jobs he’s juggled since entering parliament in 2015. Back in 2017, he even had five of them, including a City think tank, the chairmanship of both Commsworld and Golden Charter Trust and the directorship of his family company First Seer. The George Osborne of the Highlands indeed. He still maintains a croft business on the Isle of Skye and enjoys an investment portfolio with top wealth managers Rathbones.
Unfortunately, Blackford’s second jobs sometimes interfere with his main one, as he found to his cost last year when trying to make political capital out of the Owen Paterson saga. Appearing on ITV’s Representing Borders programme in November, the unfortunate millionaire was left squirming when confronted on his outside earnings of £38,000 for only 32 hours of work for Golden Charter. This, on top of an MPs’ salary of £81,932. a year. Kerching!
3. Be aggressive…
Ian Blackford knows all about getting what you want. The wolf of Parliament Street treats political opportunities like his ventures in the City: eyeing up and exploiting an opening at the ideal moment. Just witness the charmingly restrained way his campaign went after alcoholic Charles Kennedy in 2015, exploiting the unsubtle dog-whistle campaign hashtag: ‘Where’s Charlie?’ As one commentator subsequently wrote, ‘any description of Charles’s political demise without reference to Blackford is a bit like reviewing The Exorcist without mentioning the devil.’ Still, at least the SNP can’t say it wasn’t warned: Alex Salmond felt the force of his mettle 15 years beforehand when the then party Treasurer threatened to sue his own leader for defamation.
4. …but stay humble
Given Blackford’s endless self-congratulatory windbaggery in Parliament, you might have thought fame and fortune have gone to his head. Far from it, if you believe the word of the SNP man. For Blackford likes to refer to himself as just a ‘humble crofter’ who merely serves as a ‘member of Scotland’s crofter community.’ Such a claim in the Commons prompted fellow former financier Greg Hands to retort: ‘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?’
5. Protect your brand
Blackford quietly quit his £39,000-a-year directorship of Golden Charter last year, after a public backlash about its latest accounts. The investment firm – which gets its money from pre-paid funeral plans – caused Blackford a fair bit of embarrassment after it was revealed to have bemoaned how ‘excess deaths’ caused by Covid meant it had to hand over more than usual to cover the costs of customers’ funerals and cremations. Classy. Being a true believer in the sigma male grindset, Blackford did the right thing: stay silent, refuse to comment and offer no apology. Always protect your brand, king.
6. Keep it in the family
Blackford might be a millionaire but he didn’t get there by turning down easy money. Like so many in the SNP, the waistcoat-wearing nationalist likes to keep politics in the family, having put his stepson John O’Leary on the taxpayer’s dime by hiring him as a caseworker. In July 2017, he even generously gave him an £8,000 pay rise by promoted him from ‘caseworker’ to ‘senior caseworker’ and a salary of £35,465 – £7,589 more than he was entitled to before the promotion. Blackford made the move the same month as a ban came into force which means MPs cannot appoint a relative to a post unless they already worked for them. How convenient!
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