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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
06 June 2024
Douglas Ross to stand at general election in late U-turn

Douglas Ross announcing his intention to stand at the general election | Alamy

Douglas Ross to stand at general election in late U-turn

Douglas Ross has announced that he will run at the general election after initially choosing to focus on Holyrood. 

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives had previously said he would not run, instead choosing to focus on his work as leader of the opposition in the Scottish Parliament

He made the late decision to U-turn after it was decided by the Scottish Conservative Management Board that David Duguid could not contest the seat due to ill-health.  

It was Duguid’s intention to stand for the seat, and it is understood the Tories were proceeding on this assumption until very recently.  

As of 11 April, Duguid has been in hospital receiving treatment for a spinal illness. He spent four weeks in an intensive care unit in Aberdeen and has since been transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.  

In a post to social media last night, he said that he was informed by the party that he would not be selected as its candidate. 

Asked if his plan to stand at the election was a stitch up so that he can stay an MP, Ross said that he “just wants to make sure that David gets better”. 

Ross confirmed he will stay on as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives and as MSP.  

It is also expected that if he is elected to Westminster, he will serve the full parliamentary term. 

Ross said that his party needed “a candidate to fight the seat short notice” and said it was a decision that was made overnight. He will put himself forward for nomination ahead of the deadline tomorrow.  

Asked why there was no one else ready to put their name forward, Ross said “timing has a big part to play”. 

It is understood that the Scottish Conservative Management Board, on which Douglas Ross sits on but has not taken part in any matters since the announcement of the general election, was only able to hold a meeting in relation to the candidacy of Duguid last Friday. 

Ross said that he has shown he has “been able to have that dual role” as an MP and an MSP. But he said that he “understands there will be concerns” from some local members. 

He described the upcoming contest for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East as “very competitive” between the Tories and the SNP.  

The new constituency includes around one third of the constituency Ross served since 2017.  

Ross said: “I know how to beat the SNP and I know how important it will be for local voters that we do so.  

“I know the stakes in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, I know how damaging it would be for constituents to have an SNP MP who only focuses on independence at the expense of all of the issues that really matter to local people. 

He added: “In this seat, as with many seats, it’s straight fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP. I fully expect the SNP to throw absolutely everything they have got at beating me.  

“They will mobilise members from the central belt to come up and handout leaflets. John Swinney will pay the area a rare visit. The SNP headquarters in Edinburgh will pour money into Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.” 

SNP campaign director Stewart Hosie said: “This is a day of shame for the Tories, with three-jobs Douglas Ross taking a seat from David Duguid to keep his third salary at Westminster. The way the Tories have treated Mr Duguid is indefensible. The nasty party just got nastier.

“People in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East deserve a dedicated, full time MP and local champion. That's what SNP candidate Seamus Logan will be.”

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie said: “This screeching U-turn shows there is no promise flip-flop Ross won’t break.

“Douglas Ross is treating his constituents with contempt by refusing to give up one of his three jobs and his shoddy treatment of his own colleague shows how morally bankrupt the Tories are.

“The Scottish Tories can no longer attempt to distance themselves from the carnage we have seen in Downing Street – Douglas Ross has always been right at the heart of this rotten Tory government.

“The people of the Highlands and Islands deserve better than a part-time MSP and Scotland deserves better than this chaotic and dysfunctional Tory government.”

Ross also confirmed that he will continue to referee Scottish Football Association games.  

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