The steady progression of Scottish Conservative MSPs announcing that they have decided to stand down at the coming Scottish Elections in May 2016 is the clearest evidence of serious reorganisation of the Holyrood party for the fight that is coming in those elections – and to put steam in the boiler of what is already shaping up to be the effective opposition to the uber-supremacy of the SNP.
Ruth Davidson is certainly getting the preparation for the future of the party well in hand.
Those standing down are nationally known names, who have carried senior roles in opposition at Holyrood and in public life.
They are – in order of announcement to date:
- Gavin Brown [announcement 11th June] – Lothians MSP and Finance spokesperson, who said: ‘ I will have served nine years by 2016 and would like to seek a fresh challenge going forward’. He is standing down with immediate effect as Finance spokesperson, obviously to give a possible successor time to bed in to the job. At 40 and as an effective Finance Spokesperson for his party, Mr Brown clearly has places to go.
- Nanette Milne [announcement 16th June] – North East MSP and Public Health Spokeswoman, who said: ‘As an MSP over the last 12 years, I am most proud of my behind-the-scenes work which I have undertaken as an MSP on behalf of my constituents.’ At 73 Ms Milne clearly understands the need now to bring on new blood.
- Alex Fergusson [announcement 16th June] – Galloway and West Dumfries MSP and former Presiding Officer [the third] for four years from 2007-2011 who has served in the Scottish Parliament since its creation in 1999 and who said: ‘Someone once said that a week is a long time in politics, but I have to say that the last 17 years have simply flown by.’ At 66, the spectrum of his political career makes an interesting record.
- Mary Scanlon [announcement 23rd June] – Highlands and Islands MSP and Education and Lifelong Learning Spokeswoman and Deputy Convener of the Public Audit Committee, who says: ‘I am proud of my working class background. My father was a farm worker and instilled in us an ethic of hard work. Having left school at 15, I attended evening classes to gain qualifications to get into University as a mature student.’ At 68 and an MSP since 1999, she has previously held shadow posts for her party in Health and in Energy, Enterprise and Tourism.
- Cameron Buchanan [announcement 1st July] – Edinburgh and Lothians MSP and Local Government Spokesman, who said: ‘There’s a lot of new blood in the party and a new talent waiting in the wings, so it’s time to give others a chance. I’m also looking forward to spending more time with my family – if they’ll have me.’ At 69 and Honorary Consul for Iceland from 1992 to 2012, Mr Buchanan has been an MSP only since 2013, standing for his party to fill the gap left by the sudden death of former Scottish Conservative Leader, David McLetchie.