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Year of change propels Ross onwards and upwards

By Alan Beresford

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FROM resignation to vying for First Minister, all while in the middle of a pandemic, is not a typical career path by any manner of means.

Douglas Ross celebrates his election as Scottish Conservative leader with wife Krystle and son Alistair. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Douglas Ross celebrates his election as Scottish Conservative leader with wife Krystle and son Alistair. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

However, the word 'convential' is not one often applied to Moray MP Douglas Ross. From his first appearance on the political scene when he was elected as one of the three councillors for Fochabers-Lhanbryde, Mr Ross has moved on to become first an MSP in 2016 before being elected Moray's MP a year later.

This year saw him also hold the position of Under Secretary of State for Scotland, which he was to resign a few months later in protest over the Dominic Cummings scandal.

However, in a year when fate has taken many a sudden turn, Mr Ross was crowned the new leader of the Scottish Conservative party in August.

Mr Ross took some time to reflect on what has been an "exceptional" with the Advertiser.

"I think it's fair to say the year definitely hasn't panned out as I was expecting!" he said.

"Covid has made 2020 exceptional when people have made significant sacrifices; the last nine months have been extraordinary.

"When I think back to the turn of the year I was in the Scotland Office then made the difficult but ultimately correct decision to resign over Dominic Cummings, all of this while we dealt with Covid and lockdown.

"It was a great privilege to have the opportunity to stand for the leadership of the party when it arose, it was something I certainly could never have contemplated at the beginning of this year."

While Mr Ross will be leading his party into battle in the Scottish Parliament next year, the ultimate prize being the job of First Minister, he underlined that his rise to prominence had not obscured his link to his Moray roots.

"I'm so proud that someone from Moray, the son of a farmer and a school cook, has been in government and is now the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

"It all seems very different from when I first stood for election back in 2007 when, to be honest, I wasn't sure I stood much of a chance of getting elected.

"Fochabers-Lhanbryde was the most contested seat in Moray, with nine candidates after three seats. I was up against a former convener of Moray Council and someone who would go on to be convener of Moray Council. I thought 'If I don't get in this time I can try again'. I was working on a farm at that time so I had plenty going on in my life apart from politics.

"Of course, I was elected and became a member of the administration group. I also joined a number of other fresh faces on the council across the parties, including Gary Coull for the SNP and Labour's Barry Jarvis.

"Then, as now, I wanted to repay the trust people had placed in me."

Mr Ross's career has obviously had an impact on his wife, Krystle, who is a sergeant with Police Scotland in Moray, and young son Alistair, entailing a balancing act between his work roles and home life.

"The Covid restrictions have meant I've been able to spend more time at home as I'm connecting with people online rather than face-to-face, " he said.

"Alistair certainly has brought light to all the doom and gloom we've had for the last nine months. He's obviously not old enough to understand everything that's going on but he knows when dad's on TV!

"It's all about balancing things out. Krystle is very busy in her own right and with me being home more often it means I can take on more childcare duties.

"I have a great team supporting me in both my MP and leadership roles and we have campaigns ongoing all the time."

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