The National:

THE corruption and sleaze currently engulfing the UK Conservative government has claimed yet another casualty in what is likely to be a lengthy list of Conservatives as the Tory vice-chairman Andrew Bowie MP has resigned his position from a senior role. Is this, as he claims, a selfless step back from the onerous additional duties of paid office - or is it some self preservation reflex to protect his precarious ambitions?

The pathetically loyal MP for West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine defends a highly marginal Scottish constituency having a majority of just 843 at the 2019 General Election as he saw his vote share slump by 5.2% while his SNP rival, Fergus Mutch (below), saw his vote share increase by 8.6% - the highest number of votes cast for an SNP candidate in this seat ever. Indeed, without a massive slump in the  LibDem vote it wouldn't have been Mr Bowie MP but Mr Mutch MP ... bear in mind that until 2015 this was a LibDem seat.

The National:

Bowie has done all he can to curry favour in the high echelons of Conservatism but to no effect. He must loath his phone when a ministerial vacancy arises or a junior minister reshuffle commences as time after time he is ignored. How often, I wonder, does he forlornly check his mobile phone signal strength, the WiFi signal or the ringer volume on his phone. Staying awake until the cold dawn comes and with it the chilling realisation that his craven behaviours have counted for nought and he has been passed over yet again, probably by some unelected Tory donor.

Turning to his performance as a constituency MP, WiFi and phone signal may well come back to haunt him. West Aberdeenshire encompasses coastal communities like Stonehaven to commuter suburbs like Westhill, as well as Royal Deeside and includes some of the highest mountains in the UK. In large part the constituency suffers woeful WiFi and mobile phone speeds and coverage. Has Bowie scaled the heights with his advocacy on behalf of a largely rural community? The answer is no. On reserved Westminster issues like WiFi and phone coverage he has been largely invisible. 

The electorate of Aberdeenshire West comprises hard-working people including traditional, small-scale fishing and  family farming communities. Farm tenancies are the norm within large estates. Many within the commuting towns have, in the past, enjoyed excellent prospects within the oil and gas industry but these are in decline and given the recent betrayal by the Tories with the Acorn carbon capture scheme another broken promise materialises, their weasel words on a just transition echo hollowly around abandoned communities. In addition tenant farming is a tough, harsh world as is the inshore fishing that is typical of the coastal communities in Bowie's constituency all have been bitterly betrayed by false Brexit promises.  

Last week Andrew Bowie voted to let his mate, the disgraced former MP Owen Paterson off the hook in accordance with the direction of the Tory government whips. Within 24 hours the Tory hierarchy U-turned, leaving the spineless Bowie and fellow Scottish Tories isolated under severe attack and scrutiny. 

The human body collapses without a spine and it seems likely the Tory vote in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine will also collapse, this will be mirrored in other constituencies represented by Tories where there is an electorate with a hard working, no-nonsense ethos.