By Alexander Moore | Contributor
The Scottish National party politician, Margaret Ferrier, is facing growing calls to resign both from within and outside her party in response to breaking coronavirus rules.
The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West began experiencing mild symptoms on Saturday, September 26, and consequently took a COVID-19 test. By September 28, she claimed to be feeling much better and took a train to London where she gave a four-minute speech in the House of Commons. Though it is unclear when she received her result, she returned on a train to Glasgow where she began isolating.
Two days after receiving a positive coronavirus result, she informed the SNP, who were unaware that she had taken the test before travelling to London.
This comes at a time when party leader Nicola Sturgeon is looking to tighten existing coronavirus restrictions in Scotland. The Scottish First Minister has called Ms Ferrier’s actions “dangerous and indefensible” and has called for her to resign, a view echoed by many in the party.
However, there are some figures such as the former SNP MP, George Kerevan, who believes that Sturgeon’s reaction is “feeding the media”. He went on to state that Ferrier deserves the due process of the police investigation before being called to resign.
Ferrier acknowledges her trip to London was a “lapse of judgement”. Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, has suspended the whip from Ms Ferrier, though it is for her to decide whether she will follow the advice of the party leader to step down, for they are unable to remove her as an MP.
Not the first politician to break lockdown.
Earlier this year, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, went against rules that she engineered, by visiting her holiday home in East Neuk of Fife twice.
Initially, the First Minister defended the most senior doctor in Scotland by insisting that she stay in her role, however it became increasingly clear that this was untenable and so Calderwood stood down.
It can be seen as equally important for Ms Sturgeon to act on Ferrier’s actions because she was vocal in calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister’s aide, Dominic Cummings, after he broke the rules by travelling 260 miles to Durham. By not resigning, many believed Cummings damaged public trust in the UK government, something Sturgeon is keen to avoid for her party.
This breach also comes as part of a wider debate over MPs returning to Parliament.
Nicola Sturgeon’s personal approval ratings have soared over the last months, and polling suggests that her party is on course to win a majority in the Holyrood 2021 elections. Ms Ferrier’s actions may appear as a blow to many in the SNP, yet the leader’s swift action may have lessened the political damage to an extent. The question now is whether Ms Ferrier will resign as an MP, which would lead to a by-election, in the midst of a pandemic.
twitter Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics.