Who might replace Douglas Ross as Scottish Conservative leader?

Mr Ross announced he will step down after the general election

Douglas Ross has announced he is stepping down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and will also quit as an MSP if he is elected to Westminster in next month’s general election.

Mr Ross said it was “not feasible” for him to continue be an MSP while also being an MP and party leader. He will stand down as leader after the election on July 4, once a successor is chosen.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It follows a row over his decision to stand in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat, which former Scotland Office minister David Duguid had hoped to contest. Mr Duguid was effectively deselected due to ill health, but insisted he was well enough to stand.

Some of the contenders to replace Douglas Ross as Scottish Tories leader (from left to right): Meghan Gallacher, Russell Findlay and Craig HoySome of the contenders to replace Douglas Ross as Scottish Tories leader (from left to right): Meghan Gallacher, Russell Findlay and Craig Hoy
Some of the contenders to replace Douglas Ross as Scottish Tories leader (from left to right): Meghan Gallacher, Russell Findlay and Craig Hoy

So who might replace Mr Ross as Scottish Tory leader? Insiders say a contest is likely.

Russell Findlay

Mr Findlay, the party’s justice spokesman in Holyrood, is thought to be the favourite. A party source said he was well regarded among the membership and is seen as a strong voice in the Scottish Parliament. He was previously an investigative journalist and was famously the victim of a doorstep acid attack due to his reporting on gangs in Glasgow. His background outside politics could work in his favour.

Meghan Gallacher

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Picture: Lesley Martin/PAScottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross. Picture: Lesley Martin/PA

Ms Gallacher has been the deputy leader of the Scottish Tories since 2022 and an MSP since 2021. She was previously a councillor in North Lanarkshire. Insiders describe her as an up-and-coming talent, but one questioned whether she was ready.

Craig Hoy

Mr Hoy is chairman of the Scottish Conservatives and has been an MSP since 2021. Before that, he was a councillor in East Lothian and previously worked as a journalist for the BBC among others. A source said he was seen as a safe, reliable pair of hands: “competent, credible and very articulate”. But is he the right person to take the party forward?

Dr Sandesh Gulhane

Dr Gulhane, the Scottish Tory health spokesman, is a Glasgow MSP as well as a practicing GP. He is viewed as a strong parliamentary performer. However, he is also standing to be an MP in East Renfrewshire, so any leadership bid would be dependent on the result there. He also voted in favour of Nicola Sturgeon’s gender reforms, which may not go down well with the membership. One source described him as “politically naive”.

Murdo Fraser

Mr Fraser has been an MSP since 2001. He previously ran for the Scottish Tory leadership in 2011, but lost out to Ruth Davidson. Back then, Mr Fraser advocated splitting off from the UK Tories, saying a new centre-right party could attract more voters. He has lots of experience and is well respected within the party. But it is far from clear whether he would want another run at it.

Stephen Kerr

Mr Kerr has been an MSP since 2021 and was previously the MP for Stirling between 2017 and 2019. Insiders describe him as ambitious and a “good talker”. He is certainly skilled at winding up opposition politicians. However, Mr Kerr is also running in the general election, where he hopes to be the MP for Angus and Perthshire Glens – a new seat. Again, his next move will be dependent on that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jamie Greene

Mr Greene has been an MSP since 2016. He is seen as ambitious and a strong performer in Holyrood. However, he also backed Ms Sturgeon’s gender reforms. He later said he believed he was sacked from the party’s Holyrood front bench because of this.

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.