by Colin Campbell
FORMER Moray MP and ex-SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson wrote a column in the vile National newspaper at the weekend titled “Douglas Ross is not well liked – whatever the Tories say.”
What followed was a highly personal attack on the current Moray MP Douglas Ross, who is the strong favourite to take over as leader of the Scottish Tory party following the resignation after only five months in the job of Jackson Carlaw.
Angus Robertson knows plenty about Douglas Ross, more than he probably wants to. It was Ross who unseated him in the 2017 General Election, a result which caused as much consternation among nationalists as the defeat in the same election of Alex Salmond. For Angus Robertson now to hit back in highly personal terms against his successful opponent shows he has never quite got over it. It also shows a rancorous lack of self-awareness. Those sour grapes must still taste very bitter in his mouth.
Angus Robertson was swept away in a backlash against Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement three months earlier that she was pressing for another independence referendum. As a direct result a third of SNP MPs lost their seats in 2017.
Since then the most headlines garnered by Douglas Ross came when he said on a radio programme that tougher action was needed against itinerant travellers who planted themselves anywhere and everywhere they choose on private land. His view seemed perfectly reasonable to me and I suspect many others, but the SNP tried to whip it up and distort it into an example of discrimination against a minority, all too typical of the brutal, callous Tories.
Whether or not he is the man to take on Sturgeon remains to be seen. But someone needs to. Whatever anyone thinks of her, her domination of the political scene at the moment is absolute. Most people would struggle to even name a Tory or Labour politician in Scotland, while Queen Nicola struts around in a regal class of her own.
Because of this many nationalists think they are on a winning home run to independence.
But they take no account of the view that the more dominant Sturgeon becomes the more unavoidably irritating she also becomes to very many people who do not share their ambition to rip the UK apart.
A lot hinges on the performance of Douglas Ross. But a vast number of people would like to see Sturgeon taken down a peg or three.
She has become too dominant, too ever present on television, too much the self-styled voice of Scotland.
Her prominence is scarcely new, but it has become even more pronounced in recent months with her daily coronavirus update/party political broadcast appearances on, for her, the increasingly accommodating BBC.
If Douglas Ross does become the man to take her on with support for the Union at the core of his challenge, he will undoubtedly be the underdog in the contest to follow.
But support for the underdog in this case will certainly not be in short supply.