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Election gamble could see Douglas Ross representing 51% of the landmass of Scotland and 10% of the total population

By Scott Maclennan

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A map of the areas that MSP Douglas Ross wants to represent.
A map of the areas that MSP Douglas Ross wants to represent.

In a move that drew as much attention north of the border as Nigel Farage drew south of the border – Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross performed a major U-turn and entered the general election.

The manner of his entering the race for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat drew almost universal condemnation as respected MP David Duguid, still recovering from illness in hospital, was booted out of his seat.

Mr Duguid had intended to stand again as the MP but was told he had been deselected last night. Mr Ross distanced himself from the move, saying that the Conservative management board made the decision – that may be true but he sits on the board.

To be clear, Mr Ross aims to have at least two roles, one in Holyrood and one in Westminster, one as a Highland and Islands MSP and another as the MP for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

So what many in the north and north east of Scotland are asking themselves is how Mr Ross could ever think that he could possibly represent the area effectively?

The Highland and Islands electoral region is by far the largest in the UK at 40,326 sq km – Scotland has a total area of 77,910 sq km – so it is 51 per cent of the total area of Scotland. That does not include the Westminster seat.

First, of all take a look at the map above and the plan a journey in your head. Consider the time it would take and whether you can get there and back in a day.

And second, consider how long it would take to travel down and back to London or Edinburgh to attend parliament, committees and all the additional meetings MPs or MSPs attend.

If he wins then he will represent people in Peterhead as an MP and more than 213 miles away as the crow flies he will or should be representing folk in Aird an Rùnair, the most westerly point of the island of North Uist as an MSP.

It does not stop there, he will also be responsible for constituents in Southend on Kintyre and those in John O’Groats – a mere 249 miles as the crow flies compared to the distance from Southend to Unst in Shetland (406 miles).

By comparison if the electoral region was a country then it would fall between Switzerland (41,291 sq km) and Bhutan (38,394 sq km) and that does not include the population which is not small either.

Despite being mostly rural and one of the most sparsely populated areas in the UK taking the Westminster constituency and Holyrood electoral region Mr Ross is making himself available as a representative to almost 520,000 people.

That is just under 10 per cent of Scotland’s population and he is also busy as the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party as well as being a linesman.

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