Was Conservative MP Douglas Ross right to miss key vote in favour of being an assistant referee in the Champions League?

By Alasdair Hooper

It’s nothing new for parliamentarians to combine their duties with another job.

Former Chancellor George Osbourne, for example, managed to hold a vast collection of key positions simultaneously – such as editor of the Evening Standard – before finally giving up his seat in the most recent General Election.

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However, on Wednesday October 18 a number of Westminster eyes were on Conservative MP Douglas Ross – or rather the absence of the representative for Moray.

On the day of a key vote on the controversial policy of Universal Credit, the 34-year-old was in Spain preparing to carry out his other job.

He was one of the assistant referees for Barcelona v Olympiakos at the Camp Nou in the Champions League.

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Theresa May was forced to defend the Tory MP – who assumed his seat in June 2017 when he ousted former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson – during Prime Ministers Questions.

Brandishing a red card (a classic comedic gag by the way) the SNP representative for Falkirk, John McNally, said: “Mrs May will be aware that the honourable member for Moray is not in his place – indeed he is in Barcelona doing his other job, today of all days.

“What signal does she think this sends to hard working members of the public who are expected to turn up for their day jobs or face sanctions?”

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The Prime Minister responded by saying that Mr Ross’s constituents would be pleased to have a Conservative MP.

Given the choice any normal human being would most likely elect to run the line in the Champions League – in one of the most glamorous stadiums in world football.

Yet, as criticism forever grows regarding politicians detachment from society, can Mr Ross really get away with missing such an important vote on one of the most critical policies the government are currently rolling out?

Surely if you are going to stand as an MP you should be doing the job properly, which means turning up to key debates on voting on crucial issues in the House.

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However, as I see it, the greatest disconnect between the public and those that sit in the Commons is that many MP’s simply aren’t relatable.

Mr Ross’s career as a football official makes him seem human, a quality I’m sure a great number of his constituents appreciate.

Too many times we have seen parliamentarians swallowed up into the ‘Westminster bubble’ but the Moray MP’s involvement in the most popular sport in the country – and the world – is a highly attractive quality.

 

Furthermore, as important as Wednesday night was, eventually the Conservatives decided not to contest the non-binding vote.

While I feel Mr Ross’s football involvement adds a sense of normality to a profession that has been lacking it for so long, ultimately, it’s the voters in Moray that decide whether he was right or wrong.

He was elected in the General Election with his constituents fully aware of his officiating career.

They will be the ones that determine if they want change and someone else to represent them at Westminster.

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