Carlaw and Ballantyne to contest Scottish Conservative leadership race

Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne will vie for the position of Scottish Conservative party leader after nominations for the contest closed at noon .

Carlaw, the acting interim leader, said in Parliament on Thursday that he has shown what it’s got to lead the party.

“I’ve been there, done it. But that entitles me to absolutely nothing,” Carlaw said. “Like everything else in life, what you want has to be earned. And while the members of this party will rightly be the judge of it. I believe I am battle tested.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative deputy leader and co-chair of Jackson Carlaw’s leadership campaign, told EN4 News that he is the man to lead the party “through 2020 and beyond”.

Kerr said: “Jackson Carlaw has what we need to deliver the next government of Scotland. I want to be part of the government, I don’t do this to be in opposition. Jackson’s the man that can deliver this for us.

“Time is short, we have only 15 months until the 2021 election – we need experience, we need a proven leader. He’s got a track record and he holds Nicola Sturgeon to account every week in FMQs.”

Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne are the only candidates for the position. (Credit: Scottish Parliament)

Ballantyne says she is “up for the fight to become the next Scottish Tory leader” and says she is determined to beat the SNP”. 

Ballantyne claims she will “kick-start a blue-collar revolution in the Scottish Conservatives”.

Meet the contenders vying to become the new Scottish Conservative party leader

As the nominations for the 2020 Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party leadership contest close at noon today, with votes taking place shortly after – EN4News takes an in-depth look at the two candidates vying for the position.

Jackson Carlaw:

Jackson Carlaw - Conservative - Eastwood

(Credit: Scottish Parliament)

Jackson Carlaw is the MSP for Eastwood in the West of Scotland, and is also the current acting leader for the Scottish Conservation Party following Ruth Davidson’s resignation in September 2019. He represented the party in the televised debates throughout the 2019 General Election campaign.

Carlaw serves as the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and served as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party under Ruth Davidson from 2011 to 2019.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Tory Deputy leader and co-chair of Jackson Carlaw’s leadership campaign, said that the Eastwood MSP is the man to lead the Scottish Conservatives “through 2020 and beyond”.

“It’s a really exciting time for us in the party,” Kerr explained.  

“Time is short, we have only 15 months until the 2021 election – we need experience, we need a proven leader. He’s got a track record, and he holds Nicola Sturgeon to account every week in FMQs.” 

“We are doing a full policy review into looking at the policies that have taken us this far, but also looking at whether the circumstances change since they were put in place, and whether they create opportunity for the people of Scotland and take us forward in a positive way.”

Kerr says that Carlaw is the man that can take the Conservatives into government and is the strongest Conservative MSP to challenge Nicola Sturgeon for First Minister: “Jackson Carlaw has what we need to take us forward with a policy platform. I want to be part of the government, I don’t do this to be in opposition. Jackson’s the man that can deliver this for us.”

Currently, Carlaw looks set to become the next Tory leader.


Carlaw pledges that he will diversify the Scottish Conservative party



Michelle Ballantyne:


(Credit: Scottish Parliament)

Michelle Ballantyne is a Conservative Member of Scottish Parliament for the South Scotland region, assuming office in May 2017

Before becoming a politician, Ballantyne was originally a nurse from the south-east of England. She trained at the Royal London Hospital and after moving to Scotland, graduated from Heriot Watt University with an Honours degree.

In her bid for the party leadership, Ballantyne claims she “will kick-start a blue-collar revolution in the Scottish Conservatives”. 


  • Localism: devolving powers from the party centre back to local associations. We need to hone the relationship between our local associations and the central party, to ensure we can best draw upon the wealth of talent in our associations and support our local councillors.
  • Empowerment: I want to see our associations empowered and trusted to run their own affairs so that the establishment supports associations, not the other way around.


  1. Policy: we will give our members a real voice in setting policy. Not only will I re-invigorate policy forums across the country, but we will also hold a special policy convention this year to kick start our blue-collar revolution.
  2. Review: If elected, I will commit to a full review of the party’s structure and look at how we can improve or reform existing arrangements to build on the professionalisation and ensure accountability.
  3. Party Management Board: To ensure that the party’s management board keeps its finger on the pulse of our membership and that it makes sound long term decisions, I will widen the board to include places for an MSP elected by their group, an MP elected by their group, and a councillor elected by councillors. The party board is not the leader’s board. My changes will make the board work for the membership.
  4. Deputy leader: Our MSP group and MP group can find themselves working in separate silos when instead we should be more collaborative and collegiate. If we are to be successful, we need to make sure we coordinate the efforts of all our elected representatives at all levels. I will proactively ensure better lines of communication between both Parliamentary groups, as well as those in local government, and to bring us together as one team I shall appoint my deputy leader from our MP group in the House of Commons.
  5. Councillors: We need to offer councillors as much as support as possible. While a good start has been made, if we are serious about capitalising on our success in 2017, and building a strong foundation for 2022, we need to join up our teams in the Scottish Parliament and in local councils in a more effective manner.


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