Grilling for leadership hopefuls Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne

Scottish Conservatives' leadership election candidates Michelle Ballantyne, second from left, and Jackson Carlaw, fourth from left, at the Moffat hustings on Saturday with (left to right): David Mundell, MP, meeting chairman Charles Milroy and Oliver Mundell, MSP
Scottish Conservatives' leadership election candidates Michelle Ballantyne, second from left, and Jackson Carlaw, fourth from left, at the Moffat hustings on Saturday with (left to right): David Mundell, MP, meeting chairman Charles Milroy and Oliver Mundell, MSP

Both candidates in the Scottish Conservatives’ leadership election battle went head-to-head in southern Scotland at the weekend.

Current interim leader Jackson Carlaw, MSP, who was deputy to former leader Ruth Davidson, and South of Scotland MSP Michelle Ballantyne, from Walkerburn in the Borders, are bidding for the top job.

They addressed nearly a hundred party members at a hustings in the Annandale Hotel, Moffat on Saturday afternoon before lively question and answer sessions.

Mr Carlaw, who represents Eastwood, was in the motor trade for many years before becoming a full-time politician whilst Ms Ballantyne, a former NHS intensive care staff nurse, later worked in health management and has also led a specialist support charity for people facing drugs and alcohol issues.

The meeting was chaired by Charles Milroy of Dumfries, former chairman of Dumfries and Galloway Conservative and Unionist Association.

All party members in Scotland are eligible to vote with ballot papers being circulated shortly and the new leader is expected to be announced on February 14.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell and his son Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell helped host the local hustings.

Both have publicly endorsed Mr Carlaw as their favoured candidate for the role.

David Mundell said: “There was some insightful questioning of both candidates and I was delighted to see such a large turnout on a wet afternoon.”

Oliver Mundell added: “Whatever their personal candidate choice, I would encourage every eligible party member to cast their vote.”