7 times Dundee ‘hardman’ Stephen Flynn made headlines in first year as Westminster leader

One year since Dundonian Stephen Flynn took over as the SNP’s Westminster leader, his weekly clashes with Rishi Sunak have given him a new, national platform.

His no-nonsense approach in the House of Commons has attracted attention, and in a bizarre twist got him branded Westminster’s “hardest” MP.

We’ve taken a look back at seven times the Mr Flynn made headlines since his victory on December 6 last year.

1. Britain’s hardest MP

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson.

After a Westminster survey, Stephen Flynn was crowned Britain’s hardest MP by current affairs magazine the Fence.

Mr Flynn was described as having a “combination of henchness and actual karate technique”.

Asked about the new title, representatives of Mr Flynn said he was “in the gym” and unavailable for comment.

The nonsense took an ever weirder twist when he illustrated the accolade by posting an old clip of a Dundee 16-year-old claiming the city has a “hardman” image.

That man, David McLean, is now a a science teacher. Clearly enjoying the new-found fame, he told The Courier all about that strange moment in 2000 and how it made him a cult hero.

2. Prime Minister’s Questions

As the SNP’s leader in Westminster, Stephen Flynn is given a chance to quiz Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at in the Common’s each week.

His fiery clashes with the prime minister have impressed onlookers, and infuriated some opponents.

But some MPs are unimpressed by Mr Flynn’s habit of speaking with his hand in his pocket.

During his questions, Conservative MPs can often be heard shouting across the chamber about it.

But while speaking with one hand in his pocket was not initially a deliberate choice, the Aberdeen South MP admitted he continues to do it in a bid to “wind up the Tories”.

He said. “There’s that old football analogy of ‘I’ve got the fullback in my pocket’ or whatever. Well I like to think I keep the Tories there.

He added: “As long as I’ve got the Tories in my pocket, I don’t mind.”

3. Wee dafty jibe

MPs may have been making speeches in the House of Commons for over 200 years, but Mr Flynn made history when he called Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross a “wee dafty”.

During a debate earlier this month, Mr Flynn said he could hear the Moray MP “chuntering from a sedentary position like a wee dafty”.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross. Image: PA.

He added: “If he chooses to listen, I will get to my point.”

According to Hansard, the official record of debates, it is the first and only time the taunt has been used in the chamber.

4. A curry house coup

Mr Flynn’s first weeks in the job as Westminster leader were dominated by reports of a civil war within the SNP’s ranks.

He was forced to deny he’d ousted his predecessor, insisting “there was no coup” even as party sources suggested SNP MPs had grown unhappy with Ian Blackford, who they viewed as a “yes man” to Nicola Sturgeon.

Despite claims he is part of a “vindaloo boys’ club”, Stephen Flynn said he actually doesn’t like curry.

In an interview, Mr Flynn denied being part of a testosterone-fuelled “vindaloo boys’ club” of male SNP MPs where the reported coup was plotted.

He said: “I know saying this could lose me votes, but contrary to public opinion, I don’t even like curry. I just don’t.

“I saw one headline that said I was a part of some vindaloo boys’ club. The truth is, I can barely stomach korma, even that is too spicy for me.”

5. Terrace reunion

Stephen Flynn and Ian Blackford
Stephen Flynn and Ian Blackford catch up over drinks to address rumours of a rift. Image: Stephen Flynn.

In an attempt to dampen rumours of a rift with Mr Blackford, the new group leader shared a picture on social media in April of the pair enjoying a drink on the House of Commons terrace.

Mr Flynn’s drink of choice, an Aperol spritz, took some by surprise, although he has spoken previously about his favourite tipple.

His “hardman” label clearly undented by this revelation or the admission he can barely stomach a korma.

6. National anthem snub

Stephen Flynn alongside other senior politicians on Remembrance Day. Image: PA
Stephen Flynn alongside other senior politicians on Remembrance Day. Image: PA

Stephen Flynn sparked predictable outrage during the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London.

Stood alongside current and former party leaders, Mr Flynn remained silent as others sung God Save the King, the UK national anthem.

Deputy Scottish Tory leader Meghan Gallacher criticised Mr Flynn, saying that while he was “entitled to his republican views”, he had a duty to “show respect” to the head of state.

But Mr Flynn said: “I chose to stand in silence and be respectful of the King.

“He’s the head of state and I would never seek to do anything to try and be disrespectful, especially on a day like that. It means a lot to me like it does to everyone else.”

7. Mug row

Stephen Flynn with the anti-Labour mug. Image: Stephen Flynn

As well as digs at the Conservatives, Mr Flynn is also keen to take on Labour.

But one stunt over Labour’s U-turn on scrapping the two-child benefit cap landed the MP in hot water with parliament’s sleaze watchdog.

Complaints were made he had misused official parliament compliments slips for party political purposes.

The notes were stuffed in mugs which read: “Controls on family sizes. What’s the point of Labour?”

While the complaint was dismissed, Mr Flynn was given a light rebuke by the Standards Committee who said MPs should not use materials provided by the parliament for party-political purposes.


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