Born December 21, 1930; Died November 3, 2011.

John Young, who has died aged 80, was a Scottish Conservative politician in local government and, latterly, the Scottish Parliament. A rare breed in that he was a consistent Tory supporter of devolution for Scotland, he remained an elected politician during a period of marked decline for the once powerful Conservative and Unionist Party.

He was born in Glasgow and educated at Hillhead High School and the Scottish College of Commerce, after which he also completed a Glasgow University management course. From 1949-51 Mr Young served in the RAF, thereafter working in a variety of jobs as an export manager, PR consultant, contracts manager and shipping manager.

In local government, he had a remarkable record, serving for an uninterrupted period of 35 years on, at first, Glasgow Corporation (1964-73), then Glasgow District Council (1974-96) and, finally, Glasgow City Council (1995-99). From 1977-79 Mr Young found himself in charge of Glasgow District Council as leader of a minority administration. He was also leader of the opposition from 1979-80, 1988-92 and 1996-98.

At the beginning of his career, Mr Young represented a party that could boast dozens of councillors across the city and half a dozen MPs. As both those figures declined, he held on to his council seat through a combination of hard work and shrewd political tactics. In 1995, for example, he styled himself an “Independent Conservative” in his election leaflets to guard against the unpopularity of John Major’s Government. It appeared to work; Mr Young was re-elected as many other long-serving Conservative councillors across Scotland lost their seats.

Mr Young stood for election to the House of Commons twice, first in Rutherglen in 1966, then in Glasgow Cathcart in 1992. One of a handful of consistently pro-devolution Tories at a time when such a position was anathema to Margaret Thatcher and other party leaders, Mr Young was naturally drawn to the history of the Cathcart Tories, where other Home Rulers had consistently rebelled against the strictly Unionist party line. He even penned a short book (of which he was very proud), A History of the Cathcart Conservative Association 1918-1993, covering this interesting story.

A member of Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s commission charged with devising a policy prospectus for the new Scottish Parliament, Mr Young also became the first Tory candidate to be selected to fight a constituency – Eastwood – in the run-up to the 1999 elections, something that drew media criticism given he was approaching his 69th birthday. Although he managed a creditable result in a once-solid Scottish Tory heartland, he arrived in Parliament as a list MSP for the West of Scotland.

He was the Scottish Parliament’s second-oldest member (the oldest was the SNP’s Winnie Ewing) and served as his party’s deputy spokesman on transport and environment, as well as its member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, which oversaw Parliamentary housekeeping. In Tory group leader David McLetchie’s 2001 reshuffle, however, Mr Young lost his front-bench post.

Animal welfare, particularly that of dogs, was his big political passion, and he attempted to reform legislation governing the use of fireworks to that end. He was also secretary of the Scottish-South African Society (1986-88) during the twilight years of Apartheid, a long-standing member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, a vice-chairman of the Scottish Pakistani Association and a member of the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority.

In the Scottish Parliament, Mr Young also served as a member of the Audit and Justice 2 Committees, but in reality he was reaching the end of his career and did not contest the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections. “If there were such a thing as testimonial matches for politicians,” assessed one biographer, “he would deserve one.”

A convivial man and, in his prime, a fine debater, John Young died following a long illness. His wife Doris predeceased him and he is survived by his son Peter.