New job for one Borders Tory MSP in shadow cabinet reshuffle but sack for another

One of the Borders’ MSPs has landed a new job in the Scottish Conservatives’ shadow cabinet, but another has lost hers.

By Darin Hutson
Friday, 21st February 2020, 10:23 am
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 10:37 am
Rachael Hamilton, MSP
 for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.
Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton, previously culture and tourism secretary, has been appointed shadow rural affairs and tourism secretary in a reshuffle this week following the election of Jackson Carlaw as party leader last Friday.

Walkerburn’s Michelle Ballantyne, a Tory list MSP for South Scotland, has been sacked as shadow social security secretary, a job she’d held since May 2018, however.

Her former brief has gone to Central Scotland list MSP Graham Simpson, now shadow secretary for housing, communities and social security.

South Scotland Tory list MSP Michelle Ballantyne with Jackson Carlaw last Friday awaiting the result of the party's Scottish leadership contest. (Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images)

Mrs Ballantyne has been given the non-shadow cabinet role of committee convener for economy, fair work and culture, however, and is set to stand for Christine Grahame’s the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale seat at the next Holyrood election, due to be held by May next year.

The contrasting fortunes of the former Selkirkshire councillor and her predecessor as regional Tory list MSP here are being attributed to the differing roles they played in the party’s recent leadership contest.

Mrs Hamilton co-chaired Mr Carlaw’s bid to succeed Ruth Davidson, but Mrs Ballantyne was the only candidate to stand against him in what, given that the result always appeared to be a foregone conclusion, was an unexpectedly acrimonious campaign.

Mrs Hamilton, constituency MSP for the Borders since June 2017 and a list MSP for a year before that, said: “I am delighted to be appointed to be shadow cabinet secretary for rural affairs and tourism. It is an opportunity I will relish.

“As a farmer’s daughter with many years’ experience as an agronomist and running a small hotel, agriculture and tourism is in my blood.

“I know first hand the hours and hard work farmers put in, and they rightly should be rewarded for their efforts as the custodians of the countryside.

“Day to day in my constituency, and across Scotland, I have seen how the Scottish National Party continually lets down our farmers.

“Rural crime, poor broadband and a lack of farm grants all exacerbate the problems of rural Scotland.

“Hard-working farmers want to grow their farm businesses and encourage the next generation to take the reins, but we see an SNP government not fully supporting the sector.

“With the many opportunities that lie ahead of us, we need a government that is embracing the positive changes in farming, one that is willing to invest in increasing efficiency, driving up productivity and helping farmers promote environmentalism. The Scottish Conservatives will offer that.

“I want to continue to champion the countryside and promote Scottish tourism in my new role and push the Scottish Government to take seriously the challenges facing rural areas which they have neglected for far too long.”