I’m exhausted by nationalism, says MP who defected from SNP to Tories

Dr Lisa Cameron said she no longer believes in independence.

Craig Paton
Thursday 19 October 2023 13:05 BST
Dr Lisa Cameron defected from the SNP to the Tories this month (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)
Dr Lisa Cameron defected from the SNP to the Tories this month (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Dr Lisa Cameron, who quit the SNP for the Tories, has said she and Scotland are “exhausted by nationalism”.

Dr Cameron caused a stir when she defected last week, after claiming she had been ostracised by SNP colleagues after supporting the young staffer who was sexually harassed by MP Patrick Grady, branding the party’s culture at Westminster “toxic”.

The defection sparked a war of words between Dr Cameron and party members, with SNP president Mike Russell describing her decision as a “tantrum” and First Minister Humza Yousaf saying she must never have believed in an independent Scotland.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Thursday, Dr Cameron was asked if she still believed in separation from the UK.

“No I don’t,” she said. She added: “To be honest with you, I feel absolutely exhausted by nationalism.

“I feel like Scotland’s exhausted by nationalism and all of our services are exhausted now. It’s become very divisive.

“(The SNP) was badged to me in 2014 as a big, broad tent – it’s become narrower and narrower and narrower towards nationalism that I don’t even recognise the party I joined from 2014.”

Dr Cameron made her first appearance in the Commons as she crossed the floor ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, flanked by the former prime minister, Theresa May, and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

The East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP went on to say that her religion – she is a member of the Free Church of Scotland – had been “frowned upon” by some in the SNP.

I didn't feel particularly wanted as a Christian in the SNP

Lisa Cameron, Tory MP

“I didn’t feel particularly wanted as a Christian in the SNP,” she said.

“You were made to feel like you’re a Christian but just don’t raise it very much, certainly don’t vote in line with your beliefs.

“I had voted against abortion regulation previously in the Parliament and that had been another issue with the SNP.

“Some people within the SNP had said at the time that I shouldn’t be able to be selected because of those issues as an MP last time.

“There have been ongoing issues about not being able to be who I am, not being a big, broad tent of all different people from different political backgrounds.”

Dr Cameron voted in 2019 to keep abortion illegal in Northern Ireland and in 2020 against the imposition of buffer zones for protest outside abortion clinics in England.

This week, SNP MP Alison Thewliss said she did not agree with Dr Cameron that the atmosphere among the SNP Westminster group was toxic and added that members of Dr Cameron’s local branch had told that Dr Cameron had a “bullying attitude” and they were “glad to see the back of her”.

Addressing the claims by Ms Thewliss, the new Tory MP said: “I think that’s a disgraceful thing to say, to be quite honest.”

She added that she had never heard from the party’s conduct committee about her behaviour towards other members.

Following the news she was defecting from the party, Dr Cameron and her family were forced to leave her home and she says they have still not been able to return due to threats.

Asked if she was scared to move to her new party, she said: “Yeah, because there’s so much hostility and abuse in Scotland in terms of politics, it’s very divisive.

“It was something that gave me great anxiety because of the level of abuse I knew I would suffer from what’s called the cyber nats in Scotland.”

Cyber nats – or cyber nationalists – are considered to be supporters of Scottish independence who campaign mainly online and have become abusive towards opponents.

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