BY Peter Diamond | March 9 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Catholic MP rules out deputy bid, but backs call for parish role in politics

A Scottish Catholic MP has ruled herself out of the position for deputy leader of the Scottish National Party – but has called for Catholics to ‘carry their Faith out of church buildings’ and be politically active.

Dr Philippa Whitford, MP for Central Ayrshire, was thought to have been a front-runner for the position following the February 3 departure of Angus Robertson, who lost his seat during the general election in June 2017.

Following the announcement of the vacancy last month reports included Philippa Whitford as one of a leading number of candidates that could take on the challenge. Reports intensified last weekend when Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, ruled himself out.

MP Tommy Sheppard—who the SCO last year revealed had plans to ‘chip-away’ at the power of organised religion in Catholic schools—cited a work life ­balance as the main reason for not considering the role.

Dr Whitford has this week clarified her own position on the vacancy following more rumours of the Belfast-born politician becoming Nicola Sturgeon’s number two.

Dr Whitford told the SCO: “I was flattered to be approached by a number of party members asking me to stand.

“However, I’m not going to stand. I’m not one of those people who thought the new depute has got to be an MP.

“I did give it some thought but having already started getting back on the road again—going around the country to speak at SNP ‘Yes’ and Women for Independence meetings—that’s where I wish to concentrate my energies.

“I have additional calls on my time, including maintaining my medical license and continuing my work with Medical Aid for Palestinians in Gaza, in addition to the work as an MP and my role as frontbench health spokesperson.”

Ms Whitford is also a surgeon at Crosshouse hospital, Kilmarnock, and practices her Faith as a lay member at St Meddan’s RC Church, Troon.

Ms Whitford also voiced her approval for a call by the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Officer Anthony Horan for more Catholics to get involved in politics.

MP Whitford said: “Regarding the need for Catholics, and indeed all Christians, to be more active in politics, I believe it is important that we carry our Faith out of our church buildings after Sunday services and campaign for justice, humanity and peace both abroad but also in our own communities.

“Many people say they are not interested in ‘politics’ but political decisions impact on every aspect of our daily lives and currently, after a decade of austerity poverty, injustice and suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable has soared in the UK

“Responding to these circumstances may take the form of direct charitable action but we also have a responsibility to try and tackle to underlying injustices.”


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