JACKSON Carlaw has sacked his rival for the Scottish Tory leadership in a shadow cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Carlaw stripped Michelle Ballantyne of her role as the party’s social security spokesperson and kicked her off his front bench team.

Nicola Sturgeon, whose cabinet is mostly female, said it was "shockingly poor" that only three of the 13 members of the shadow cabinet were women.


The changes follow Mr Carlaw beating Ms Ballantyne three-to-one in an often acrimonious contest for the party leadership.

Ms Ballantyne had criticised Mr Carlaw’s interim leadership of the party during the general election, when he presided over the loss of seven of its 13 Scottish MPs.

She accused him of lacking vision and had a “policy vacuum” which left the party talking almost exclusively about independence.

Ms Ballantyne’s ejection from the Tory frontbench at Holyrood was widely expected.

Besides angering Mr Carlaw, she had also generated a series of bad headlines in the role, including suggesting people on benefits should have fewer children.

Her role has been given to MSP Graham Simpson.

Also sacked from the shadow cabinet are Peter Chapman, who loses the rural economy brief to Rachael Hamilton, and Gordon Lindhurst, who loses the Trade and Investment brief.

Mr Carlaw said his reshuffle offered Scotland a “genuine alternative” to the SNP, and created new positions as well as moving key personnel between roles.

Adam Tomkins swaps his role on the constitution to become “shadow cabinet secretary for strategy”, while Donald Cameron, who had been running the party’s policy review, becomes shadow finance secretary, opposite the newly promoted Kate Forbes.

Former shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser takes on constitution and external affairs.

Another big change is Liz Smith losing the education brief to become chief whip.

Jamie Greene moves from transport to education, while former chief whip Maurice Golden is made shadow cabinet secretary for economy, fair work and culture.

Mr Carlaw said: “This is a brand new shadow cabinet designed to take on the SNP leading up to May 2021, and take the Scottish Conservatives into government after it.

“We’ve got the best people fighting in the best places, and they’re going to bring us onto the next level.

“I said during the leadership campaign that I wanted to press the positive case for the union across all areas of political debate, and that’s exactly what Murdo Fraser – one of Holyrood’s most senior and respected MSPs – will be doing.

“I also promised to prioritise areas like housing – such a critical area for young people across the country – which is why I’ve included that role within the shadow cabinet.

“It’s simply not enough for us to be a strong and effective opposition anymore.

“We need to prove to the people of Scotland that we’re a government in waiting, and that’s exactly what I intend to do over the next 15 months.

“The SNP has failed to put Scotland’s best interests first, and has overseen a deterioration in almost every area in which it has responsibility.

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“That includes an education system in crisis, a health service which is on its knees, and an economy which lags badly behind the rest of the UK.

“That’s all on the SNP. The nationalists’ time in government is coming to an end and we’re ready to step up and step in.”

On Twitter, Ms Sturgeon said: "In this day and age - and with all the available evidence about the importance of diversity in decision making - having a ‘Shadow Cabinet’ that is 75% male is shockingly poor."