Ross quits as Lochhead warns party they must listen

MORAY’S MSP IS warning his SNP colleagues that they must take heed of why so many voters turned away from them – as new Moray MP Douglas Ross confirmed he has resigned his Holyrood seat.

The numbers in the general election last week provided a stark warning that people throughout Scotland would not simply accept being told to prepare for a new Independence referendum.

While the move to the Tories was a spectacular one throughout the country, it was notably so in the North East where Fishing remains an issue – and where those connected with the industry were simply not prepared to be told remaining in the EU would be good for the soul.

“The Tories managed to not only motivate their own supporters but also attract SNP voters,” Moray’s SNP MSP admitted to a national newspaper, adding: “Clearly there was a complex backdrop for an SNP election campaign – but the timing of a second independence referendum, and in particular the SNP’s support for continued EU membership, were major factors.”

The switch in Moray saw Angus Robertson lose 6000 votes just two years after being re-elected in 2015 – while Douglas Ross gained 7000. There had been signs that the wind was changing a year ago, when Douglas Ross made a much stronger show against Richard Lochhead in the Scottish elections – a warning that did not appear to be fully noted by the SNP.

Mr Lochhead said: “I met many voters who told me that, although they were happy with the performance of the Scottish Government, they were prepared to hold their nose in a Westminster election and vote Tory – or in some cases other parties in protest.

“My SNP colleagues and myself must now demonstrate we are listening and decide our next steps. We were never going to repeat the extraordinary success of 2015 – we remain Scotland’s biggest party but we have to ensure we are in touch with all the people we represent and learn lessons.”

Ross quits Holyrood

Douglas Ross’ Scottish Parliament role is over.

Meanwhile last night Douglas Ross kept to his word and formally resigned from his seat as a Highlands and Islands regional list MSP.

Mr Ross said that while he will also continue his hobby as a football match official, his job as an MP will always come first “but I am entitled to have a hobby and intend to continue with that – although it will never interfere with my role as Moray’s representative at Westminster”.

Under Scottish Parliament rules there will be no by-election to replace Mr Ross – list MSP’s are elected on a party basis, so Mr Ross’ place at Holyrood is to be taken by the next name on the regional list, Jamie Halcro-Johnston.

Mr Halcro-Johnston failed to win the Westminster seat last week in his native Orkney. He will be remembered in Moray as the Conservative candidate who lost to Angus Robertson in the 2005 general election.