Finger-pointing continues as Argyll and Bute election looms


It’s going on Week 17 of the campaign and there is still more drama to unfold as the Tory candidate for Argyll and Bute is undergoing an oral examination.

Douglas Ross, who is facing off against SNP majority-holder Alasdair Allan in the same by-election as around a thousand of his colleagues in Holyrood over the coming weeks, is under the microscope this weekend.

He is to undergo a battery of tests and examination to screen for Covid-19, a cancer associated with smoking.

Mr Ross was forced to make an apology last week after one of his election posters was deemed to be full of misinformation.

Last week’s figures appeared to show he had got into Scottish Parliament by just 437 votes.

Other polling suggested Mr Ross had lagged behind despite what appeared to be a more than healthy funding advantage, down to £13,000 from £48,000.

In a marked boost for Mr Ross, a £49,000 cheque came through for his party from the Electoral Commission for campaign purposes, money he had requested.

However, on the eve of the by-election, Mr Ross emerged saying that he will challenge the findings by the commission, which he claimed questioned his mental state due to his decision to drop out of the race.

As politicians head to the airport for their votes on Thursday, Mr Ross will hold an appointment to undergo the new examination this weekend to help reveal any suspicious findings.

Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson told BBC Radio 4 that she was “relieved” for Mr Ross.

“You know he has to take this further, that should really be a test of character, and his friends and his family who have stood by him,” she said.

“I think it’s a test for Nicola Sturgeon, a test for the SNP, I’m really delighted that we have got to this stage and I’m really pleased for him because he’s had a stressful campaign and I’m sure he’s done a great job.”

Ms Davidson is to fly back to Scotland after her hosting of the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the Hague and will be able to see if Mr Ross comes out of it.

A well-placed source at the Electoral Commission said they would be monitoring the situation very closely in case any new matters were raised.

However, a senior Conservative insider said that the by-election will not be used to put more pressure on Mr Ross’ mental capacity.

Mr Ross will deny any wrongdoing but is facing the prospect of deeper scrutiny in terms of over the fact that he had previously asked the Conservative interim leader last year to write to the Electoral Commission to discuss his mental state.

A spokesman for the party said it was up to Mr Ross to prove that his will.

A member of the Leader’s Commission for mental health issues, Mr Ross was diagnosed with a mild form of the illness in June 2016 and it was stated that he was coping well with his condition.

A source close to Mr Ross said that he had relied on the help of a number of people in the campaign, but stressed that he still had the full support of his family and friends.

Mr Ross made the announcement to take part in the test in response to a well-placed source indicating that other political parties were making inquiries about his mental health and that some peers in the party had issued their own reports into his condition.

Mr Ross has already spent time in hospital since the campaign began, during which his father died, and also had several visits to the local Royal Alexandra Hospital.

He had stepped down from the health committee when he put his name forward for the parliamentary by-election but said on Thursday that he will continue to participate.

Mr Ross said: “I take my illness seriously, like any mental illness I have faced and overcome my limitations and problems. I am now as well as I have ever been.”

Mr Ross added: “As a mental health professional I have treated several people who have suffered from PTSD, I have extensive experience and compassion for people affected.

“My treatment is about giving evidence to the public, not questioning my mental state.”

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