No place for ‘wee genius’ Brownlee

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DEREK BROWNLEE’S time will come again.

That was the confident prediction of Scottish Borders Council’s independent leader David Parker after one of the rising stars of the Conservatives failed to win a third stint at Holyrood.

The 36-year-old, born and brought up in Selkirk, was not seriously expected to take East Lothian from Labour leader Iain Gray and, as it transpired, it was the SNP’s Dave Berry who took the hapless Gray to the wire.

Although back in third place, 7,000 votes behind the main protagonists, Mr Brownlee was expected to regain his place at Holyrood via the regional list system.

It was through the PR route that he had first been elected in 2005 after David Mundell was elected to Westminster.

And the former accountant comfortably retained his list status in 2007, going on to become his party’s shadow finance spokesman and a member of the cross-party finance committee.

He was credited for many concessions which the Conservatives won from a minority SNP government, obliged to garner support for its annual budgets.

It was a performance that earned him the soubriquet “wee genius” from his then leader Annabel Goldie.

Outwith the perfect storm that engulfed Scotland last Thursday, Mr Brownlee would surely have been considered a shoo-in, being first on his party’s list for the South of Scotland.

But alone among Scotland’s eight regions, the South list failed to produce a single Conservative MSP. Instead, the list returned four for the SNP, two for Labour and a single Lib Dem, Jim Hume.

“Derek Brownlee was a highly regarded, intelligent Conservative MSP who was widely respected across the political spectrum and had worked hard on financial issues,” said Mr Parker.

“There can be no doubt his time will come again, but he will be a loss to the Scottish Parliament over the next five years.”