YEARS AS LOCAL rivals fighting several elections in Moray have made Richard Lochhead and Douglas Ross very familiar to each other.
Now the pair are coming face to face at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood – with the opening salvos coming immediately after they were sworn in this week.
Mr Lochhead’s immediate future as a Cabinet Secretary will not be known until next week when his party leader reveals her plans, while Mr Ross is hotly tipped for a place in the opposition front line.
While the surroundings of a seat in the chamber are unfamiliar for the new Tory MSP, it will be back to work for the SNP man as he enters an eleventh year as an MSP. He said: “It is an absolute privilege to be Moray’s representative in the Scottish Parliament and I’m delighted to have taken my oath now, meaning I can get on with working hard for people in all of our communities.
“Since I was first elected as Moray’s MSP ten years ago, I have always done my best to work hard for all of my constituents, whether they voted for me or not, and I will continue to do so. I’m looking forward to getting back to work, to holding regular surgeries, meeting with local organisations, and generally doing all I can to make Moray a better place to live.
“I will continue to be accessible to people in all corners of the constituency and I would encourage anyone with any concerns or issues to get in touch.”
Douglas Ross, who is representing the Highlands and Islands (which includes Moray) in the new Parliament, was typically quick off the mark, lodging his first motion to the Parliament congratulating the Fochabers Ice Cream parlour’s naming as ‘Scotland’s Best’.
He said: “The first week has been a bit of a blur with a series of meetings, training events and ceremonies. We’ve had fantastic training and support from Parliamentary staff who want to ensure we have everything we need to represent our constituents as well as possible.
“On Wednesday evening there was a very special interfaith blessing in St Giles’ Cathedral which I attended with my wife and you couldn’t help but be struck by the importance of our role as MSPs and representatives as members of all the faiths and none wished us well in our task over the next five years.
“We also attended a reception with HRH Price Charles and we discussed one of his previous visits to Moray when he had viewed the aftermath of the floods in Elgin and Fochabers.
“At the end of the week all 129 of us were sworn in and I took the oath which allows me to officially be known as an MSP and begin taking on local cases and to take part in Parliamentary proceedings.
“I was delighted that my first official act as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands was to lodge a motion in the Parliament celebrating the great achievement by Sheila Gray and all her staff at Fochabers Ice Cream shop who were named the country’s best ice cream makers. This is a fantastic local business and it was nice that I could highlight an area I represent as both a councillor and an MSP in my first motion.
“I had a great sense of pride being sworn in in front of my wife and parents who travelled to Edinburgh to share the occasion with me.
“Now, however, the work starts. I hope to get an office established very soon and begin holding surgeries and meetings. I’m already receiving casework from people in Moray and throughout the Region and I look forward to helping as many people as possible over the next five years.”