THE chairman of the Borders Conservative Association has spoken of his “dismay” at the departure of his party’s Holyrood leader, a vacancy which could be filled by John Lamont.
John Greenwell made the comments after Annabel Goldie announeced she will be standing down following the Scottish Elections, which saw the Tory contingent slip from 17 MSPs to 15.
And Mr Lamont, newly elected MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, admits he is “still thinking” over whether to stand as leader having spoken to colleagues and family.
While Mr Greenwell would not be drawn on Mr Lamont’s possible promotion, he paid tribute to Miss Goldie.
He said: “It was with much dismay that I learnt of Annabel’s decision to stand down in the autumn.
“Over her term of office, Annabel proved to be an effective leader in parliament and in the wider Conservative family.
“She was much loved by all, especially by our ladies section in Hawick who have supported her through thick and thin.
“Her robust and friendly approach to politics will be missed greatly. Whoever her successor is has a very hard act to follow and all of us in the association wish her well for the future.”
Mr Lamont said last week: “The party needs a new direction. A number of new people have come into power in the last few years and a decision needs to be made. Will it be someone who has been around for a while or will there be a generation jump.
“I won’t deny that people have approached me with the suggestion to shift to a younger person. I believe I have something to offer.”
Meanwhile, the only remaining Borders-based Liberal Democrat MSP has congratulated his colleague Willie Rennie, who was elected party leader on Tuesday.
Jim Hume, one of only five Lib-Dems still in Holyrood, added: “There is no doubt that the recent election result was a setback to the party, but Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to ensure that liberal values are upheld in Holyrood and in Scottish life.
“Willie has the energy, drive and experience to lead the party, and I look forward to working with him.”