Douglas Ross: I’m not a bigot but…
It’s not that Douglas Ross wanted to see tougher enforcement on Gypsy Travellers that is the main problem.
I mean, it doesn’t really surprise me that this is the kind of issue that a Tory might get his knickers in a twist about.
What makes it particularly reprehensible was that the question was.
If you were prime minister for the day, without any repercussions, what would you do?
It reflects badly on him that, given unlimited power to resolve any issue in the UK without consequence, the first thing that popped into his head was cracking down on a persecuted minority.
Hasn’t he seen old clips of Miss World contests? You are meant to say, ‘I’d cure world hunger’ or ‘I’d reverse Global Warming’.
I’m not a clinical psychologist but, for me, it says a lot about a person that out of all the issues in the world, a relatively minor one involving an ethnic minority, was the first thing he thought of.
Cue Ruth Davidson, a woman who spends half her working life moralising about how nasty and divisive supporters of independence are.
Surely she would take some strong action? Nope, she only offered a garbled nonsensical excuse about it being a ‘local issue’. Which is a particularly poor show given that she has also recently stuck up for a couple of racist and sectarian councillors.
I know that Douglas Ross, as a hard-working councillor in Moray, an MSP and an MP, has worked really hard with his constituents about an issue that is particular to his area regarding illegal encampments.
This is a response to a particular local issue. This is him acting as a local representative, reflecting some of the concerns of his local community, which have been acute in Moray.
Really, but that doesn’t make things any better, does it?
Folk parking, littering and letting their dogs crap outside my house is certainly getting my hackles up but I’d doubt it would be the first thing that would pop into my head if I was given omnipotent powers for a day.
Which is perhaps why Ross’ other employer, the SFA, is taking his comments more seriously. Kudos to the Scottish Tories though, for being the only organisation in Scotland with a less lenient disciplinary procedure than those in charge of Scottish football.
Still, even if Travelling People were the biggest issue facing Moray, the main reason that there has been a problem with illegal encampments is that Moray Council has failed to expediently authorise an official halting site for travellers.
And you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Mr Ross in his previous role on the local council, has on many occasions fought against the creation of one.
Here he is in 2011 rejoicing about the rejection of planning permission to one.
This has been a long battle but I’m glad at the end of the day the Scottish Government Reporter has confirmed this is an inappropriate location for a travellers’ site
Yet, six years later that site was eventually approved and one of the reasons given by the planners for doing so was Moray’s failure to provide proper facilities.
If Ross had adopted a less harsh approach in the past then maybe the problem of illegal encampments would have been resolved and maybe he wouldn’t be so consumed by this issue.
Or perhaps it is not actually him that sees travellers as the biggest problem facing humanity?
After all, Davidson’s defence of him implies it is his constituents who have the problem.
Now I’ve only visited Moray a few times but I have never gotten the impression that it was a hive of anti-Roma hatred. Yet Davidson is suggesting it is not Ross who thinks that a few caravans parked illegally in one of the least densely populated areas of the UK is the big issue of our time. She’s putting the blame onto the people of Moray. Ross, according to Davidson is just voicing the narrow-minded concerns of the locals.
Well, that doesn’t really get him off the hook as we know already that he is quite good at not representing the locals when it suits him. Within days of being elected Ross failed to represent the WASPI women that he pledged to help during his campaign. Also, a quick glance at the local papers shows that the locals are aware of and concerned about many regional, national and global issues.
So, that really only leaves the possibility that Ross didn’t understand the question, or that he really does have an irrational dislike of a persecuted group of people.