LAST week’s resignation of my party leader, Jackson Carlaw MSP, came as a blow to myself and those who championed his vision of blue collar conservativism that he made the centrepiece of his leadership campaign only six months ago.

As someone from a working-class background, I passionately believe that the future of the Conservative Party lies in those values of empowering communities like mine – equipping everyone, regardless of where they came from or how they were brought up, with the skills to succeed and meet their aspirations. I don’t just want to talk about social mobility, I want for every child in the East End of Glasgow to experience it.

John Major once said, “what does the Conservative Party offer a working-class kid from Brixton” – and of course we all know the answer is that they made him Prime Minister. Well, for me, the Scottish Conservatives have offered a working-class kid from Shettleston the opportunity to become a council group leader and the chance to effect real change in my own community. Jackson Carlaw was an integral part of my formative years within the party and for that I will be always grateful.

Leadership of any organisation comes with its opportunities as well as wide-ranging challenges.

During these past few months, it has often been difficult to toe the fine line between robust scrutiny of public policy – something I believe is a fundamental tenet of our democracy and which I will never shy away from – and accusations of politicisation and prioritising the interests of one’s party over the country. Jackson is not the only leader who has faced this challenge but it speaks to his character that he was able to put his own personal ambitions aside in the face of what he believes to be the greater interest of both the Scottish Conservative Party and our UK.

I’d like to see a new leader commit to embracing the values of blue collar conservativism. I want a leader ready and able to expose the empty spin that the SNP use to shroud their failures in government. A leader who comprehensively rejects the narrative of division that forms the nationalists’ core strategy, and offers a refreshed vision on what Scotland’s place in the UK means for young people today.

This leader shouldn’t be afraid to boast about the UK’s record in helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world through our overseas aid budget. This leader should shout from the rooftops that the UK is a world leader in wind power and other green technologies.

This leader should bring home to the people of Scotland in a real and tangible way the benefits of a devolved system of government that gives us the best of both worlds – allowing us to take decisions on matters which solely affect us while also being part of a wider social, cultural and economic union of peoples that protects jobs, stimulates arts and culture and keeps us safe from those that would do us harm. The Scottish National Party’s singular aim is to destroy devolution, and the Labour and LibDem parties have abandoned the battlefield. It will be up to the new leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party to stop them.

For me, this leader is Douglas Ross MP. Since seeing off Angus Robertson and holding his Moray seat last year, he has been a consistent thorn in the side of the nationalist cohort at Westminster. He’s a dedicated, hard-working, and principled public servant for whom his constituents always come first.

I have no doubt that he’s up to the challenge we face and look forward to working with him over the coming weeks and months as we prepare for the electoral challenges on the horizon.