CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

On the Campaign (and whisky) trail in Moray

The drive from Inverness to Forres takes you through some of the best farmland in Scotland. Fine seed potatoes are grown in Moray. Fine barley too. I always think that barley is best enjoyed in whisky form, and where better to enjoy it than Moray, home to more distilleries than anywhere else on the planet. Macallan, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Glenfarclas, Tomintoul, Aberlour; if you want a fine dram, Moray’s for you!

24.04.2016.

The drive from Inverness to Forres takes you through some of the best farmland in Scotland. Fine seed potatoes are grown in Moray. Fine barley too. I always think that barley is best enjoyed in whisky form, and where better to enjoy it than Moray, home to more distilleries than anywhere else on the planet. Macallan, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Glenfarclas, Tomintoul, Aberlour; if you want a fine dram, Moray’s for you!

I mention farming for another reason. My drive to Forres was marked by field poster after field poster for Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Candidate for Moray. Not just one farm, but clearly almost every farm en route proudly displayed a poster for Douglas. All the more remarkable given the fact that the SNP candidate is the farming minister. I should say that the SNP chap had a single poster along the road, on a piece of waste ground, between farms.

Douglas Ross is quite a character. He manages to combine his role as a local councillor with his passion for football. He is a FIFA assistant referee (linesman in old money) and spends most Saturdays following the ball in games across the land. He was on hand during the Glasgow derby when Rangers reminded Celtic that there was trouble ahead.

When we spoke on Forres High Street, Douglas immediately raised the issue of farm payments and the Scottish Government’s chaotic attempts to pay farmers their due. For Douglas it was personal. The SNP minister to blame was, until dissolution, MSP for Moray. Douglas was not surprised that their were no SNP posters in the fields. As he explained, the SNP keep trying to blame everyone but themselves: the EU, Westminster, even the farmers. Douglas was clear, farmers want their entitlement, an explanation and apology, in that order.

Douglas also raised an issue that had been exercising him for some time (as a councillor in the heart of whisky country, it came as no surprise): Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol. I am the Vice President of the European Parliament’s Wine & Spirits Intergroup, so I understand Douglas’s concerns. Indeed I share them. All the more so after the European Court of Justice found against the Scottish Government.  We agreed that the challenge is serious, but the solution needs to be far more focused on the actual problem, rather than a catch all approach that affects the whisky producers of Moray.

Douglas and I had a fine afternoon on Forres High Street. It wasn’t that long ago that Moray was a Tory seat. If Douglas keeps up the good work, it may well be again, sooner than many think!