Welcome to a new feature for ScotlandVotes ahead of May’s election. We’re calling it #16for16. 16 candidates that will be making an impact during the campaign and may be making a bigger impact in the Holyrood chamber after the election.
Our seventh profile is the Scottish Conservative’s Ross Thomson.
What’s your name? Ross Thomson
Where are you standing? Aberdeen South and North Kincardine
Which party are you standing for? Scottish Conservative and Unionist
How old are you? 28
What is your current job/role? Councillor, Aberdeen City Council
What have been your previous jobs/roles? Check out operator at ASDA, Barista at Starbucks, Customer Advisor for Bank of Scotland and before getting elected I was Store Trainer for Debenhams in Aberdeen.
Why are you standing? I am standing in this election primarily because I genuinely believe I can make a difference for my community in the Scottish Parliament.
As a local councillor since 2012 I have built up a track record of getting things done for the residents in my ward, of making projects happen and getting things fixed. I know local folk often feel they don’t have a strong voice in Holyrood and that far too often Aberdeen gets a raw deal. I want to bring the same determination I have shown at Council to the Scottish Parliament to ensure that Aberdeen gets a better deal in terms of funding, infrastructure support, teachers, NHS services, affordable housing and to make the case for a fairer planning system that empowers our communities.
In terms of national issues I passionately believe that the people of Scotland made their view clear on Independence in September 2014. I am angry that the Scottish Government have not respected that result, the 60% who voted NO in Aberdeen deserve a strong voice at a time when the SNP are agitating for independence with a whole new drive for it over this coming summer.
I am standing to fight tooth & nail against a second referendum and to ensure that ministers are held to account over their day job such as running our schools, running our hospitals and maintaining our roads amongst much more.
I am standing because parliament needs new blood, it needs new faces and it needs MSPs with the energy to hold the Government to account.
Earliest political memory? Prior to the 1997 election the Scottish Conservatives had their conference at Aberdeen’s Exhibition Centre. I recall passing in the car with my parents, there was a lot of police, a lot of activity. I asked what was going on and my parents said that the Prime Minister was visiting. I don’t know why but I spotted a man standing with the police and I just assumed that he must be the Prime Minister. Naturally, I learned later that it wasn’t John Major.
First election you can remember? The first election I can remember is the 1997 General Election, I was nine years old and I went with my parents to the polling station.
I went into the polling booth with my Dad and asked him who he was voting for. He said John Major (though it was the local Conservative candidate). When we came out of the booth and my Dad posted his vote into the ballot box I spotted my Mum and shouted, “We voted for John Major” at that moment I was rushed out the polling station, my feet never touched the ground and when back in the car my Mum made it clear that its secret and you certainly don’t shout it out in the polling station! I should point out that my parents voted all sorts of ways before and also since!
Where do you see Scotland in five years? I want to see Scotland thrive.
I want to see a Scotland where people who have aspirations and dreams can achieve them.
I want to see Scotland break from the shackles of centralisation and big government.
I want to see the people with more power and responsibility to get on with their lives and to make the very most of it.
For me that includes giving local councils more power, devolving it from Edinburgh to communities; making public servants/officials more accountable; giving professionals such as teachers and doctors the freedom to get on with their job without added bureaucracy; to have a country where aspiration is embraced and allowed to flourish rather than punished; to see investment in skills and opportunity with more college places and apprenticeships; where hard working families can get on rather than having more of their income taken in taxes.
I want to see Scotland lead again in ideas and innovation.
We will never achieve it with the centralising, illiberal Scottish Government we have right now.
We need a Government willing to trust the people and unleash their potential!
Favourite campaigning anecdote? In 2004 I got involved in my local Conservative association in the Gordon constituency. The local candidate at the time Philip Atkinson picked me up from the office and took me to Huntly for a campaign day.
It was my first day doing anything political, my first day as an activist. During the first day delivering I was bitten on the bottom by a dog I was assured was friendly and then shortly afterwards got soaked all the way through in torrential rain.
Despite that I still stayed involved!
Tell us something not many people know about you I have an obsession with sharks.
When I was at secondary school I was determined that I was going to be a marine biologist who specialised in working with sharks, particularly Great White sharks.
JAWS is one of my all-time favourite films, it was the catalyst for my interest. My science grades were never great and I vividly remember that the school did not want me to take Standard Grade Biology and instead do general science. At the time for me this was the thing that could potentially shatter my dream and I fought hard for the school to let me do it.
In the end they gave in and out of my own determination to prove them wrong I ended up doing Advanced Higher Biology, even though by that time I had a change of heart.
I still love sharks and one of my life goals is to cage dive with Great White Sharks. I think they are beautiful fascinating creatures, when people look at pictures they see monsters, I don’t. I see something quite spectacular.
Biggest vice/guilty pleasure? My biggest guilty pleasure is the Eurovision song contest!
I can’t help it, I love the craziness of it all. I watch it every year and I have Eurovision albums downloaded on my iPod.
One of my all-time favourites is Verka Serduchka who was Ukraine’s entry in 2004 with “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. I almost fell off my chair when she appeared in the movie SPY with Melissa McCarthy – you couldn’t miss the silver outfit and massive glasses.
What do you perceive to be the next big issue in Scottish politics? I believe that the next big issue in Scottish politics is going to in fact be the same big issue in Scottish Politics that we’ve been discussing for years and that is the constitution. I believe that this will still dominate Scottish Politics because, despite a clear referendum result, the SNP are still agitating on the constitution. Nicola Sturgeon has announced a whole new drive over this summer to articulate a new argument for independence, to win over more people who had voted No.
If the SNP are returned again as the next Scottish Government I don’t think Scotland will move on from the referendum of 2014. Remember their whole reason for existence is to secure independence; their focus will always be on that ultimate goal or “beautiful dream” as Sturgeon calls it. Therefore everything they do in Government is geared towards that end.
Further, over this next five years the Scottish Parliament will mature as new powers over a raft of areas come into force, no doubt these powers and the constitution as a whole will still dominate the Scottish political scene over those years to come.
Favourite place in the world? So far the favourite place I’ve visited in the world is Washington DC. I’m a massive fan of the West Wing & House of Cards. So I was star struck by buildings.
The city is steeped in US history and I loved the pace of it. Everyone was really friendly and there was so much to do.
In terms of my favourite place in the world, full stop, it always has to be and will be home – Aberdeen!
How do you relax away from politics? To relax I like to switch off to the world with a good movie, whether that is at home or in the cinema. I like being with my friends, going out for drinks or dinner, to talk about all sorts of things other than politics. Though with the amount of campaigning just now it’s pretty hard to do that, with long days, lots of walking and days where you’re often soaked to the bone I have found that a great way to relax or recover Is a nice, hot, bath! (and a glass of wine).
Other #16for16 profiles: