Scotland politics

Scotland's MPs get back to work

Westminster Image copyright PA
Image caption MPs have been sworn in but the Queen's Speech has been delayed

Back to work. Sort of. Scotland's latest group of MPs have been in London this week, adjusting to the new Parliament and, in some cases, their new jobs.

Parliament hasn't really got going yet - that won't happen until after the delayed Queen's Speech on Wednesday.

But as the dust starts to settle, what do we know about how things will change?


Image copyright SNP
Image caption Ian Blackford was elected by his SNP colleagues at Westminster

The most obvious difference will be personnel. And nowhere is that more striking than in the SNP group.

There's been a changing of the guard, with the 2015 intake firmly in charge (largely down to the fact three of the six elected pre-2015 lost their seats last week).

Ian Blackford was elected the new Westminster leader on Wednesday - both his challengers were first elected two years ago too.

Mr Blackford's deputy - Kirsty Blackman - was also elected in 2015. She beat the only 'elder statesman' to stand for either of the top two positions, Stewart Hosie.

The only real nod to the pre-2015 group was that Pete Wishart, first elected in 2001, was chosen as group secretary. I'm told a new frontbench team will be announced in the coming days.

Image copyright PA
Image caption David Mundell has a dozen new colleagues

There is continuity of sorts in the Conservative group, with David Mundell remaining Scottish Secretary (we still don't know who his under-secretary - de facto deputy - will be).

But there is significant change, with a much bigger group of 13 Tory MPs from Scotland. As Mr Mundell told the BBC as he returned to work on Tuesday, he's spent the past decade only having to agree with himself - now he'll have colleagues to consult with.

There was speculation earlier this week that the group could form a party within a party - fighting for Scottish interests.

Part of this is true; the Scottish Tories intend to lobby hard for what they think is best for Scotland. You can see evidence of that in Ruth Davidson's calls for an "open Brexit" with the economy being the firm priority, views echoed in recent days by other senior party figures, including the chancellor Philip Hammond.

But I detect little desire to get into public spats by voting against the UK party whip. The Conservative MPs from Scotland want you to know they will lobby internally for Scottish party policies - that they'll continue what they see as their liberal traditions.

But don't expect that to mean they'll vote against the main party line in the Commons.

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Image caption Jeremy Corbyn has picked Lesley Laid (third from right) as his new shadow Scottish secretary

Some of the Labour cohort had to travel to Westminster later in the week because they had to work in their old jobs in Scotland on Monday.

There are changes at the top of the group, with Lesley Laird announced as the new Shadow Scottish Secretary.

A new appointment was inevitable after her predecessor Dave Anderson announced he wasn't seeking re-election. But Ms Laird has only been an MP for a week and some had wondered whether Ian Murray might make a return to the shadow cabinet - particularly after he and Jeremy Corbyn were pictured chatting outside Parliament as the new Scottish group attended a photocall.

In the end Mr Murray wasn't even asked to make a return. Mr Corbyn had options and chose not to reach out to a man who has been a long-standing critic and once accused his leader of destroying the party.

I'm told he will remain Scottish Labour's spokesman at Westminster though - a post created after he quit Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet.

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Image caption Jo Swinson has been tipped by some as a potential replacement for Tim Farron

Finally, could one of the new Lib Dem group soon hold the party's highest office?

There's speculation in the corridors of power that Jo Swinson - who returned to the Commons after a two year hiatus - might stand to replace Tim Farron as party leader.

She has the backing of senior figures in Scotland, but has yet to announce her plans.

Could she follow in the footsteps of Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell and be the party's next Scottish leader? Watch this space.

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