Tories score own goal as MSP misses crucial vote for football trip to Switzerland

Opposition fails to defeat government after double voting mishap 

THE TORIES FAILED to defeat the SNP in a taxation vote last Thursday [22 September] because one of their members was away in Switzerland.

Douglas Ross, a regional MSP in the Highlands and Islands region, was named as appearing at a football event on ‘Refereeing World’.

He missed his work in parliament, including a justice committee event and a crucial vote where opposition to the SNP were one vote short from winning on a local tax motion. 

The motion opposing the government ended 63-63, with Labour leader Kezia Dugdale also failing to register a vote as planned.

However, it now emerges that Ross ditched his parliamentary commitments - for which he is paid towards £60,000 a year - in favour of the Swiss football trip. Ross declared earnings of between £35,001 and £40,000 a year from his outside work as an assistant referee.

Commenting on the confusion, a SNP spokesperson said: “Three-jobs Ross appears to value his £40k-a year weekend job more than his responsibilities as a parliamentarian. 

“This is a complete own-goal for Ruth Davidson who’ll be tempted to give Douglass Ross the hairdryer treatment when he comes back from his Swiss misadventure. 

“Ruth Davidson promised to be a strong opposition but with this batch of part-time MSPs it increasingly looks as if she’s called up the reserves.”

Ross is the Tory party justice spokesperson in parliament.

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman was not impressed by Ross’ failure to attend to parliamentary business.

The episode is the latest muddle for the Tory MSP group, which contains a number of new faces to front line politics. 

Last week landowning Tory MSP Edward Mountain was mocked in parliament, when he called on parliament to stop “worrying obsessively about who owns what”.

In the same week Tory MSP Alexander Burnett (also a substantial landowner) was reported to the police over allegations of breaching electoral spending limits.

Earlier this month there were calls for Rachael Hamilton MSP to apologise for misinformation she published about the government on her blog. 

The Scottish Tory press office was previously criticised for issuing a xenophobic comment against French-born former MSP Christian Allard. 

In June there was a backlash against senior Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, who called the National Union of Students “bigots” in a late-night online rant. 

The Conservative Party did not respond to a request for comment, but told The Daily Record that Ross would be apologising for missing the vote.

Picture courtesy of Douglas Ross

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