Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross to stand in election

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is to stand in the general election.

Mr Ross's surprise announcement came after the party effectively de-selected David Duguid as the Conservative candidate in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

Mr Duguid, who is unwell, was the MP for Banff and Buchan since 2017.

Mr Ross was supposed to be standing down from Westminster at this election to concentrate on his job as an MSP ahead of the 2026 Holyrood election campaign.

He described Mr Duguid as a “friend and colleague” and said it was with "regret" the party management board decided he could not proceed as the party's candidate.

Mr Ross told a hastily arranged press conference to announce his intention to stand in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East: “This constituency will be very competitive, a hard fought, close contest between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP.

“I have decided I need to lead from the front.”

He said he would apply for his party’s nomination on Thursday evening – a matter of hours before the deadline for potential candidates closes at 16:00 on Friday.

The decision to effectively de-select Mr Duguid means he will miss out on a near £15,000 redundancy payment.

MPs who lose their seat or unsuccessfully stand for another seat are given twice the statutory redundancy entitlement as a loss of office payment. Those who do not contest a seat do not receive the payment.

Mr Duguid would have received £14,700 for his seven years as an MP but will no longer be entitled to it.

Mr Ross distanced himself from the decision not to select Mr Duguid, but said the party had made the decision “to prioritise his recovery”.

The Scottish Tory leader had been an MP since unexpectedly defeating SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson in the 2017 general election.

Shortly after becoming Scottish Conservative leader in August 2020, he said he would step down as an MP at the next general election.

He has been an MSP for the Highlands and Islands since 2021.

David Duguid
The Scottish Conservatives said David Duguid has not been selected on health grounds [PA Media]

Mr Ross, who is also a football assistant referee, has been branded "three jobs" by his opponents.

He donates his MSP salary of £72,195 to charity, while the Holyrood register of interests shows he has received more than £6,500 this year from the Scottish Football Association for his role as an assistant referee.

Mr Ross's former Moray constituency has been abolished under boundary changes at this year’s election. He had opposed the "carve up" of his seat.

Mr Duguid's former seat, Banff and Buchan, is being expanded to include parts of Moray and renamed Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

Mr Duguid said on Wednesday he had been "looking forward" to campaigning but had not been selected to stand in the new Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency.

He had recently spent four weeks in the intensive care unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary due to an illness affecting his spine. It is understood he is still in hospital.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said the decision had been made on health grounds.

The old Moray constituency is to be cut in two, with Keith and Buckie swallowed up by Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, while Elgin joins a new Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey seat.

David Wallace Lockhart byline box

So why has Douglas Ross U-turned on his pledge to not run again for Westminster?

The Scottish Conservative leader currently has two political jobs, as an MP and an MSP, but has spent some time saying he wouldn’t try to stay an MP at the next election.

His current Westminster seat will cease to exist under new boundaries.

He’ll argue these are exceptional circumstances, and with David Duguid no longer a candidate, it makes sense for him to step up to be the candidate in a winnable seat for the Scottish Tories in the north east of Scotland.

However, Mr Ross may also be thinking about the long game.

He currently leads the largest opposition party at Holyrood but polls are suggesting a Labour revival.

When the Scottish Parliament has elections in 2026, the Conservatives may well slip to third place. That could even lead to a change of leadership.

Mr Ross may well have considered that hanging on in Westminster keeps more political options open to him in the coming years.


SNP campaign chief Stewart Hosie said the way Mr Duguid had been treated by the Scottish Tories was "indefensible".

"This is a day of shame for the Tories, with three-jobs Douglas Ross taking a seat from David Duguid to keep his third salary at Westminster," he said after Mr Ross's statement.

He added: "The nasty party just got nastier."

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie accused the Tory leader of a “screeching u-turn”.

She said: “Douglas Ross is treating his constituents with contempt by refusing to give up one of his three jobs and his shoddy treatment of his own colleague shows how morally bankrupt the Tories are.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton described Mr Duguid as a "capable parliamentarian" who has respect across the aisles.

"As for Douglas's decision, that's really a matter for Douglas and the internal workings of the Conservative Party," he said.

A full list of candidates in the constituency will be published on the BBC News website after nominations close on Friday