Ballantyne to decide on MSP list position

Toby Williams: 07920841392. Midlothian Elections from The Lasswade Center, Bonnyrigg. Tory Candidate Michelle Ballantyne
Toby Williams: 07920841392. Midlothian Elections from The Lasswade Center, Bonnyrigg. Tory Candidate Michelle Ballantyne
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Michelle Ballantyne will decide next week whether or not she will accept the offer to join the Scottish Parliament as a list MSP.

The space opened up for the Conservative councillor candidate in yesterday’s elections through two unprecedented moves.

When John Lamont gave up his Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire seat in Holyrood in order to concentrate his energy on attempting to defeat Calum Kerr in the upcoming general election, South of Scotland list Conservative MSP Rebecca Hamilton was chosen to fight for the vacant seat.

In order to stand as a candidate for a constituency seat, she had to resign from being a regional MSP as, under section 9 of the Scotland Act, you cannot be a candidate while already a member of the Scottish Parliament.

Her regional seat is now vacant, and the next person from her party on the 2016 regional list is to be approached by the regional returning officer to see if they are “willing and able” to serve as an MSP, as per section 10 of the Scotland Act.

Mrs Hamilton was third on that list for the region. Fourth was Finlay Carson and fifth was former athlete Brian Whittle, both of whom are MSPs.

Sixth was Mrs Ballantyne, who led the Conservative opposition in the last council term.

Mrs Ballantyne – whose husband Neil is ill in hospital following his return from a trip to Mount Everest’s base camp – would not be drawn on the subject this week, saying she will make a decision after the council elections.

There is nothing to stop Mrs Ballantyne from being a councillor and an MSP – what is known as a dual mandate – however, if the Conservatives find themselves in power after today’s count, she would be unable to be council leader and MSP.