IT was announced yesterday that Michelle Ballantyne MSP has been appointed Scottish leader of the Reform UK party, formerly the Brexit Party and the latest wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nigel Farage egosystem (sic).

Ballantyne was not elected to the new leadership, merely being appointed by Farage, but then she was not directly elected to the Holyrood Parliament either as she only got the job because fellow Tory Rachael Hamilton resigned her position as a list MSP to fight the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Scottish Parliamentary by-election in June 2017.

And that seat was only available to Hamilton because John Lamont resigned to fight the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk Westminster Parliament seat in the General Election.

Hamilton having actually won a seat, Ballantyne was next on the list of Tories chosen before the 2016 Holyrood elections.


AS a list MSP, Ballantyne was not exactly ever front page news, except when she made a gaffe or two. She was born on November 28, 1962, in Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire. According to her official biography, Ballantyne qualified as a nurse at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, and began her career working as a staff nurse in the Intensive Care Unit, before moving into health service management.

She went on to hold a number of posts within finance before moving to South West Thames Regional Health Authority as the deputy regional finance training manager.

Ballantyne was at one time a flight lieutenant and squadron leader in the Air Training Corps, the cadet wing of the RAF.

She married a Scottish soldier, Neil Ballantyne, with whom she has six children. According to the website of their figurine manufacturing firm Ballantynes of Walkerburn, they moved to the Scottish Borders after he left the Parachute Regiment in 1990.

Michelle Ballantyne continued to work as a nurse and gained an honours degree from Heriot-Watt University. Some 20 years ago she returned to health service management, later heading up a charity providing specialist drug and alcohol support.


BALLANTYNE was elected to Scottish Borders Council in 2012 and soon became leader of the Conservative group in the council. She was described by one council observer as quiet and she led the Tories when they became the biggest group in the council in 2017.

As described above, she gained her seat at Holyrood in a roundabout way, and given the paucity of Tory talent she was quickly promoted, being appointed as the party’s spokesperson for childcare and early years not long after arriving in the Scottish Parliament.

She sat on the Public Petitions Committee and was a substitute member of the Justice Committee.

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In May 2018 Ballantyne was promoted to the shadow cabinet as shadow cabinet secretary for communities and social security.

In this job she made a couple of notable gaffes, once saying there was no such thing as the bedroom tax, and later explaining: “The point I was making in committee was simply that the so-called bedroom tax is not actually a form of taxation.”

She also once said: “People on benefits cannot have as many children as they like while people who work and pay their way and don’t claim benefits have to make decisions about the number of children they can have.”

Not surprisingly she didn’t last long in that job, but she amazed her Tory colleagues when after the resignation of soon-to-be-Baroness Ruth Davidson, she decided to contest the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives against Jackson Carlaw who beat her easily.

After Carlaw quit, she did not go up against Douglas Ross for the leadership, and perhaps that is why in August she was promoted to the role of shadow minister for trade, investment and innovation.

She was not happy, however, with her party or Ross and she quit the Tories in November.

As The National revealed she didn’t tell her constituents anything about her resignation in her annual report to them.

Ballantyne said at the time: “I’m looking forward to continuing to represent my constituents across South Scotland as an independent MSP and champion local issues at Holyrood.”

She also said on her website – which still has items describing her as a Conservative – that at the Holyrood election in May “Michelle will be running to become the constituency MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.”

But for who? Nowhere at any time did she ever say she was going to be leader of a right-wing party such as Reform UK Scotland.


GETTING into bed, figuratively speaking, with Farage isn’t exactly a sensible option for politicians in Scotland.

Let’s just say he’s toxic and signing up with him and his party – and it is his party – can lead to only one conclusion: Ballantyne was so desperate to become a leader, a leader of anything, that she linked up with a man most Scots despise.