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Angus MacDonald speculates complacency cost SNP Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire

By Andrew Dixon

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Angus MacDonald with his wife Michie. Picture: Callum Mackay
Angus MacDonald with his wife Michie. Picture: Callum Mackay

Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire’s new MP has speculated that the SNP might have been complacent ahead of the general election.

Lib Dem candidate Angus MacDonald (61) - a successful businessman and philanthropist - dethroned the SNP’s Drew Hendry, who had been the city’s MP since 2015.

The Highland councillor for Fort William and Ardnamurchan, who spent three years in the Queen’s Own Highlanders, stationed in the Falklands and Northern Ireland, described the last six weeks as more exhausting and tense than any of the conflict zones he had experienced.

Continuity has not cut it as civil wars break out in the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives following general election thrashing

Who is Angus MacDonald? Profile of Inverness’s new MP in his own words

Inverness’s new MP: Vision for the Highlands + key issues

Among his priorities is an aim to focus both Westminster and Scottish governments on the catastrophe that is happening in our care sector looking at hospitals and care homes, plus maximising the funds payable to communities from all renewable projects, and he plans to fight to reverse the centralisation of powers and budgets to Holyrood and Westminster.

He said the first thing he will do in Westminster is to seek a meeting with Scottish secretary Ian Murray in a bid to address funding and centralisation.

“Ultimately, if you're going to get budgets and powers up here then that is a person who will give it,” he said. “We've seen centralisation down to Holyrood and Westminster all across the UK and I think people are basically fed up, they feel they are getting left behind.”

While the Labour landslide took place, it came mainly at the expense of the Tories and SNP.

“When the election was called the bookies were offering odds of 25/1 against me winning, and all the national polls had me behind even the Conservatives and Labour,” Mr MacDonald said. “We felt this was completely wrong, feedback on the doorstep seemed really positive for me.

“Perhaps the SNP were caught napping, complacent, thinking their previous huge majority meant they had the result in the bag.”

He described running his operation similar to a military campaign, doing his research by speaking to experienced politicians and reading books about the campaign run by former US President Barack Obama.

“Before the election had been called we had already knocked on 30,000 doors out of the 45,000 in the constituency over the previous year,” said Mr MacDonald, who was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to the Highlands. “With the Conservatives in power for 14 years and SNP for 17, the voters in the Highlands felt it was time for a change. I was the change candidate.

“I have enjoyed most of the campaign - canvassing is fun, people are almost all nice and happy to chat. Hustings are aggressive however, they are not suited to my nature, and comments on social media can be really unpleasant. I have been involved in lots of business crises, served in the army in conflict zones and the birth of four sons but I can say this last six weeks has been the most exhausting and tense period of my life.

“I have been fantastically supported by Peter Winnington-Ingram my friend, and agent. Aonghus Ferguson, from Plockton, and Declan Gallagher along with many many others. A huge thank you to them and all those who voted for me.”

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