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Politics Matters: Courage under fire enhances MSP’s credibility as David Stewart says 'I feel confident that I can refute Jacob Rees-Mogg’s description of Douglas Ross as lightweight’

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David Stewart columnist.
David Stewart columnist.

I last met Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross MSP a couple of years ago when he was a minister in the Scotland Office. Our meeting was in the palatial Dover House in Westminster.

I must confess to an acute sense of nostalgia when I reflect back to Dover House, as I served there in a junior position during the last Labour government.

Douglas had agreed to my meeting request, regarding two of my constituents at the time, who were facing financial ruin through employers liabilities incurred by the Plumbers Pension Fund. Douglas was well versed on the issues, and confident and articulate during our two-hour meeting.

So I feel confident that I can refute Jacob Rees-Mogg’s description of him as “lightweight”. Quite the reverse. Douglas is an intelligent, respected and hard-working elected member.

He also has another important ingredient of leadership – courage under fire. Calling for your UK party leader to resign is no mean feat, particularly if that leader happens to be the Prime Minister into the bargain.

Just to be clear, I have no truck with the Tories – but nor do I believe any one party has a monopoly on talent. In my view, Douglas Ross has come out of the internal Tory stooshie with Rees-Mogg with his credibility enhanced.

n I was pleased to learn this week that former Caley Thistle star Nick Ross is to join US football club Sacramento Republic.

Nick, who hails from Inverness, made his Caley Thistle first team debut in 2009 and went on to make 175 appearances in all competitions including winning the Scottish Cup in 2015.

My son Andrew, a good ICT fan, lives in Sacramento and will be cheering Nick on this season.

n I was sorry to read that the historic Old High Church in Inverness will hold its final service soon. As a young district councillor in the 1980s, I was a regular attendee at the Kirking of the Council, held there. The tradition goes back over 400 years.

The church itself is steeped in history and is part of the DNA of Inverness. Surely it is not the end of the road for the Old High?

n Campaigning to raise awareness of diabetes was a passion of mine in the Scottish Parliament. I learnt so much as chairman of the parliament’s cross party group on diabetes.

Constituents from across the Highlands and Islands shared their insights on living with the condition. This led to successful campaigns, including to improve the roll-out of insulin pumps in the north.

This week marks a crucial anniversary in the care of those with Type 1 diabetes – the discovery of insulin by MacLeod, Bunting and Best. January 23, 1922 was the first time a patient was successfully injected with insulin.

Countless people living with Type 1 diabetes owe a debt of gratitude to Professor John MacLeod, born in Dunkeld and educated at Aberdeen University.

Professor MacLeod, along with fellow academic colleague, Frederick Bunting, was awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize for Medicine, for their pioneering work in discovering insulin.

Prof MacLeod’s research legacy continues today through the excellent work of Diabetes Scotland and within the UHI Centre for Health Science in Inverness.

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