POLITICS

SNP's Mhairi Black Hits Back At Tony Blair 'Caveman' Jibe At Nationalists

22/07/2015 13:57 BST | Updated 22/07/2015 16:59 BST

The SNP's youngest MP Mhairi Black has hit back at Tony Blair's 'caveman' jibe about those who seek independence.

Responding to the former Prime Minister's claim, the 20-year-old said that it was Blair who was more 'primitive' for his role in Iraq.

"On any reading of his record, Tony Blair was the one with the primitive policy - dragging the country into an illegal war in Iraq, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and causing massive instability to the region, the ramifications of which we continue to live with," she said.

Mr Blair sparked SNP anger after he declared that nationalists were effectively Neanderthal 'reactionaries' rather than progressives with solutions.

"Nationalism is not a new phenomenon. When they walk about it being new politics: it’s the oldest politics in the world," he said.

"It’s the politics of the first caveman council when he pointed with his club across the forest and said ‘they’re the problem, over there, that’s the problem’.

“It’s blaming someone else: however you dress it up, it’s a reactionary political philosophy... it's always about blaming others."

In a wide-ranging attack on Jeremy Corbyn and the rise of the Left, Mr Blair said: "Remember we won in 2005 in Scotland. The SNP in Holyrood is a government that's being allowed to behave like an opposition.

"Look at literacy rates in Scotland - they've declined in recent years. There are problems with the Scottish health service."

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But Ms Black, one of 56 SNP MPs who virtually wiped out Labour in Scotland in the last general election, was swift to retaliate.

The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, who won widespread praise for her maiden speech in the Commons, was scathing.

"Tony Blair must still be smarting from Labour losing the Scottish Parliament election to the SNP in 2007 when he was Prime Minister, and had dragged Labour so far to the right that it was barely recognisable," she said.

"And Tony Blair's legacy still haunts and damages Labour today, and led them into the sorry position of not even voting against the Tories' welfare cuts and budget bills this week - leaving the SNP as the real and effective opposition to the Tory government.

In the wake of the row, SNP MP Mark McDonald tweeted his own depiction of Mr Blair.

SNP supporters were quick to offer their own defence against Mr Blair and all had a similar theme.

Even the spoof Twitter account Angry Salmond got in on the act.

Ms Black added that the former Labour leader's attacks "suggest someone badly out of touch, presumably unaware that SNP poll ratings have reached 60 per cent this month".

Since coming to office in 2007, the SNP have frozen council tax, delivered free Higher Education, scrapped prescription charges, protected Free Personal Care, kept cheap travel and protected people from the worst Tory welfare cuts, she said.

"While Labour continue with their infighting and recriminations, the SNP will get on with the job of delivering for Scotland and working for progressive politics across the UK."

Mr Blair had said he was reluctant to give advice to Scottish Labour on how to beat the SNP, joking that he felt like someone who “just come back from four years at the battle of the Somme … saying ‘I’ll tell you what I would have done’.”

But he said that despite the nationalists’ current popularity in Scotland he did not think Labour would die out.