Douglas Ross has defended his decision to run for Scottish parliament while remaining an MP by saying it’s about “giving something back”.
Speaking to The Scotsman in the sixth part of our exclusive election video series, On The HolyRoad, the Scottish Conservative leader stressed his love of Moray and pride at representing the area he grew up in.
Mr Ross is currently the MP for Moray, but also on the Highlands and Islands list for Holyrood.
He said: “We are in my home area, I stay about two miles away from here, I was brought up here. I'm proud to represent it at Westminster and I'd be proud to represent Moray again as part of the Highlands and Islands if I’m elected to the Scottish Parliament as well.
“It's about trying to give something back to your communities.
“I've been privileged to grow up in a wonderful part of the country but I think for my own son I want him to have the same opportunities as I had at our local schools here in Moray and I don't think after a decade and a half of the SNP being in power our young people have the same opportunities as I had a couple of decades ago.
“There's so much more we can do here locally and across Scotland to improve things for people.”
Mr Ross also revealed he was in regular contact with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but insisted it was his campaign.
He said: “We talk quite a bit, we text message quite often.
“I've been in London a lot less, just because of the pandemic he's still dealing with, the health response at a UK level, and the economic response itself, so he is pretty busy with a lot of other things but he keeps in touch with the campaign we're running here, but he knows it's my campaign, my team, my manifesto.”
Challenged on why voters should support his party behind just unionism, the former dairy farm worker claimed the SNP had failed domestically.
He said: “We've shown over the last five years as the main opposition that we will challenge the SNP, we will stand up to them, we'll look at their record which has been 14 years of failure and we will demand far better for Scotland.
“I believe in Scotland remaining a strong part of the United Kingdom, but what I certainly don't want to see is the next five-year parliament dominated by talk of another referendum, of dividing the country all over again when it should be trying to protect people's jobs and people’s educational standards, deal with the drug death crisis that we have here in Scotland.
“It was decisions taken by Nicola Sturgeon and her government to remove funding from rehab facilities that has had an impact on the increasing number of drug deaths here in Scotland and even though they have now agreed to put that money back in after Scottish Conservative demands that money won't take back the lives of already being lost and the families that have been broken having lost a loved one far too soon.
“It’s cost people’s lives, it’s ruined many families, and it’s not just from drug deaths that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have taken their eye off the ball.”
A qualified official who has run the line in Scottish Cup finals and Champions League games, Mr Ross also discussed how one of his proudest moments was ruined after he fell over.
He explained: “I've done two Scottish Cup finals and the second one saw me tripping over my own feet as a very slow moving ball came towards me.
“Until that point in the match, 73 minutes, I was very proud to be the first ever Scottish Assistant referee to do two Scottish cup finals, but no one remembers me for that.
“They just remember me for tripping over my own feet.”
Mr Ross has faced a series of criticism for his officiating from the SNP, but insisted MPs could have hobbies.
He added: “My refereeing now is at the weekends, and so at the weekend any MP or MSP, yes there's local stuff to do but you are allowed some time off and I think it's right if you've got a passion and an interest to spend some of your time off doing that and that what I do with football, it keeps me fit it keeps me active and it keeps me involved in a sport that a lot of people in Scotland following enjoy.”