The National:

MORAY has a long association with the armed forces and there are often commemorative events in my diary.

The area has played a key role in the nation’s defences for over 80 years and today is home to RAF Lossiemouth and the Kinloss Barracks.

Two ceremonies were organised to mark the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day and the organisers agreed that I would attend the Elgin event and local MP Douglas Ross would be invited to Forres.

In the run up to VJ Day, I read many moving articles about the loss and suffering of civilians and armed forces in the final months of World War Two. The most bloody and horrific conflict in our history that was ended by the surrender of Imperial Japan.

I felt it important to pay my respects to men and women of many nationalities who made the ultimate sacrifice or suffered during World War Two. I find it humbling that there are fellow citizens amongst us who lived through those days and served their country. It is a reminder that the horrors of war are not all that far away from our own generation.

When I heard that Douglas Ross hadn’t appeared at the Forres ceremony, I thought perhaps he was attending a national ceremony elsewhere in his new role as Leader of the Scottish Conservatives or perhaps he had a personal reason for his absence.

When I found out it was because he was running the line at Kilmarnock, I was astonished. And angry.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross apologises for missing VJ Day memorial

Elected representatives are invited to such events to represent their constituents, the people that have elected them. It is also important our politicians take time to reflect on the value of peace and the horrors of war.

Many people put in a lot of effort to arrange what was a poignant and moving ceremony that was attended by serving personnel, veterans, police officers and NHS workers, all there to play their part.

Douglas Ross’s decision to skip the VJ Day 75th Anniversary ceremony was deeply disappointing and very disrespectful.

I’m not surprised many of his constituents feel let down and disgusted.

His choice was simple. Attend the ceremony or enjoy his “hobby”, as he likes to call it, by running the line at a football match in Kilmarnock. He chose to go to Kilmarnock and miss the ceremony.

He has been adamant he will not give up his second job as an SFA linesman. Even though he now has a third job as a party leader.

He claimed that his job as a lineman would not get in the way of his other responsibilities.

Within weeks of becoming Tory leader it has. Again. As many predicted it would.

This time, it could not be a more stark illustration of where his priorities lie.

The ceremony was about remembering the sacrifice of previous generations yet the local MP wasn’t even willing to make a small sacrifice to be there.

I am glad that after some reflection and in response to severe criticism he has apologised.

Of course, we’ve been here before. A pattern is emerging with Mr Ross who repeatedly fails to understand the impact of his actions.

READ MORE: Three other times Douglas Ross' refereeing landed him in hot water

As an MP, Mr Ross missed a vote on Universal Credit in the Westminster Parliament to officiate at a football match and later apologised and said he wouldn’t do it again.

When an MSP previously, he took time off Parliament to attend a training course overseas for football officials for which he was heavily criticised.

He is perhaps best known for apologising for his notorious comments about “gypsy travellers” when asked what his priority would be if elected Prime Minister for a day.

To add to all that, we now know attending a football match was more important to him that attending a VJ Day ceremony.

His modus operandi seems to be to do and say what he wants irrespective of the criticism that comes his way, take the flack and wait for the news agenda to move on until he gets caught out again. He brushes of criticisms as “personal attacks” from political opponents.

In interviews, Mr Ross likes to boast about his thick skin but this is now coming across as arrogance. To treat such an important and unique ceremony as a diary inconvenience because he wanted to run the line at a football match speaks volumes about the man’s priorities – a man who is an MP and party leader and who says he aspires to be First Minister and lead our country.

Not for the first time, Douglas Ross got his priorities wrong. Not for the first time he has had to apologise. He needs to understand that actions speak louder than words.

Richard Lochhead is an SNP MSP for Moray