Swinney: Douglas Ross’s decision to run as MP has left ‘bad taste’ in north east

Douglas Ross’s decision to stand to be an MP has left a “bad taste” in the north-east Scotland constituency where he is running, First Minister John Swinney has said.

The Scottish Conservative leader put himself forward as candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East after David Duguid was told by the party’s management board that he could not stand due to his ill-health.

Mr Ross said he would step down as leader shortly afterwards, when his colleagues expressed unhappiness at the move.

General Election campaign 2024
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has put himself forward as candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East (Jane Barlow/PA)

Boundary changes mean that Aberdeenshire North and Moray East is being contested for the first time, but the majority of the constituency was in Banff and Buchan, previously represented by Mr Duguid.

On Sunday, Mr Swinney was campaigning in Keith, Moray, alongside SNP candidate Seamus Logan.

He told the PA news agency: “Aberdeenshire North and Moray East is a key seat for the Scottish National Party.

“It’s obviously the seat where the sitting Conservative MP has been ousted by Douglas Ross and I think that leaves a really bad taste in the mouths of people in this constituency.

“I’m keen to make sure that people elect Seamus Logan as a strong advocate of this community for the SNP- who will go to the House of Commons and put the interests of Scotland first.”

General Election campaign 2024
John Swinney said independence will ‘proudly sit on page one, line one’ of the SNP’s General Election manifesto (Jane Barlow/PA)

He repeated his claims that both the Conservatives and Labour are in a “conspiracy of silence” about the scale of public spending cuts to come.

A recent analysis by the Nuffield Trust “vindicated” the SNP’s warnings about the risk to NHS spending, Mr Swinney said.

The SNP manifesto is due to be launched later this week, with Mr Swinney saying earlier that independence will “proudly sit on page one, line one” of the document.

He said the manifesto will offer people in Scotland a “real vision of hope”, in contrast to the “continuing despair” being offered by Westminster.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Douglas is fully focused on winning the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat on July 4.

“Like other key seats across Scotland, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP here, end their independence obsession for good, and ensure the focus moves on to local people’s real priorities.”