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Scottish Conservatives Appoint New Leader

The Scottish Conservative Party appointed Douglas Ross MP to be their new leader last Wednesday (05/08/20).

Since the resignation of Jackson Carlaw in July the Scottish Conservatives have been leaderless, with many candidates speculated to be joining the race. This changed when no other candidates signed up to the contest and Ross won by default. This was not surprising, as the state the Scottish Conservatives find themselves in is not one that is by any means favourable.

In the 2019 election, the Scottish Conservatives lost 7 seats to the SNP, leaving them with only 5 north of the border. This shows the almost dire position the Conservative Party finds itself in within Scotland, with very few seats that it can afford to lose in Westminster. The story is more positive within the Scottish Parliament, however if the 2019 General Election is anything to go off, then the Scottish Conservatives need to be worried. They currently hold 31 out of 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament, making them the second-largest after the SNP. With that said, current trends project that some of these seats will be lost in the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election, unless something drastic happens.

It is also worth mentioning that 31 seats are the most the Conservatives have held since the creation of the Scottish Parliament over 20 years ago.

Credit: Scottish Conservatives and Unionist. Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

So, the question is: ‘If the Scottish Conservatives have been in this position for quite some time, what can a new leader do to fix it?’ There is sadly no straightforward answer to that question. Of course, the main aim of the Conservatives at the moment is defeating the SNP and maintaining the Union, though this may not be enough to win enough Holyrood seats to lock the SNP out of power.

So, who is Douglas Ross? He was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 as the member for the Highlands and Islands. He then resigned this seat in 2017, having been elected to Westminster as the member for Moray. He is also a part-time football referee, having been an official in the 2015 Scottish Cup Final. He has stopped refereeing mid-week games during the parts of the year when Parliament is sitting, however. He also supported the UK remaining in the EU during the 2016 referendum.

Having given such an apprehensive view of the situation for the Scottish Tories, though, I do think Mr Ross may be the one to turn it around. With a myriad of SNP scandals coming to light (such as the SQA grades scandal), it would only take a bit of hard campaigning and well-organised PR for Mr Ross to be successful in helping to save the Union.

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