WHERE did it all go wrong for Andrew Bowie?

Elected in 2017 with a significant majority, he was soon a parliamentary private secretary and then a vice-chair of the Conservative Party itself.

But once the electorate of West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine (WAK) had seen him in action, his majority was slashed by a remarkable 89% to 843 votes, just two years later in 2019.

Lately, Bowie has become renowned as the Conservative of choice for human shield duties.

When someone has to be wheeled out in front of the cameras to defend an indefensible Tory policy or position, Bowie’s your man. Therein lies the absurdity surrounding his chances in the next election.

Last Christmas – during those brief months when he was a junior minister for exports – he popped up on Politics Live to be quizzed on Brexit, yet wouldn’t accept that Brexit had damaged exports, even as the interviewer cited evidence that it had. He flannelled bravely, but the exchange was still described as an “utter car crash”.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie mocked for claim about ‘strong’ state of Union

Fast-forward to Question Time this March, broadcast from Staffordshire, and Bowie, in his new guise as minister for nuclear, was hauled over the coals by an audience member for refusing to answer a direct question about Boris Johnson and “trawling out party lines”.

Three months ago, he appeared on the Sunday Show, talking a mile a minute in a failed attempt to dodge Martin Geissler’s questions about the Conservative government and their years of “perma-chaos” while maintaining that Boris Johnson delivered some “substantial gains for this country”.

In the most recent example, in August, Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast clashed with Bowie as he tried to avoid answering a question about rises in standing charges for electricity and gas while deflecting blame to regulator Ofgem.

But what is all this flannel for?

Clearly, it does not serve the voters of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine. It also harms Bowie’s own reputation. Perhaps the answer lies way back in the summer of 2017, in a quote he gave to the Press and Journal newspaper in the wake of his election: “What drives me ultimately, obviously number one, is the Union.”

This motivation seems to come entirely at the cost of accountability, candour and Bowie’s own credibility.

What Bowie has neglected are strategic needs assessments which are reflected in the conversations and meetings I have had across WAK, from a typically diverse demographic that reflects the distinct communities that all need to be factored into political considerations.

The National: Andrew  Bowie met Alison Downes to discuss Sizewell C.

As opposition leader on Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee dealing with housing, health and community resilience, I recognise that people in WAK feel universally let down by this serial defender of the indefensible - from those who struggle with their everyday needs in health and social care and the loss of community-based facilities within a faltering transport system that has let down the people of Aboyne, Torphins, Tarland and Alford, to those with tightening purse strings and rocketing mortgages in the wake of the Liz Truss chaos that wrecked the economy.

Provision of childcare is appalling in terms of its reach in isolated communities, and now the Tory-led administration of Aberdeenshire is curtailing access to pools and sports facilities in the aftermath of the pandemic, precisely when they are needed the most.

With spending constrained by the limits of devolution, new-build housing is virtually stagnant and the young feel abandoned.

Constituent feelings are tangible: there is not only a breakdown in trust, but also a betrayal of hope by the Tory government Bowie is the face of.

READ MORE: Andrew Bowie: Scotland's oil and gas paid half of UK energy bills

The Levelling Up “strategy” is not working for WAK, and I am keen to prioritise forthcoming investment zones that must address evolving energy policies not limited to an Aberdeen focus on oil and gas. There is also increasing concern that the Bute House Agreement as it stands is not fit for purpose for this constituency.

But Bowie has singularly failed to embrace the opportunities that can drive the area into a healthy wellbeing economy.

Put simply, Andrew Bowie is yesterday’s man from a different landscape. We desperately need change, and despite the rhetoric from the policy vacuum illustrated throughout the slow-dripping Tory literature fed through doors, Bowie is clearly part of the problem and not of the solution.

No policy area exists in isolation, and Westminster funding choices have left a ticking time bomb over the future of this constituency in terms of hope and aspiration from the very young to those much later on in life. The last thing WAK needs is more of the same failed Tory policies, imposed by Westminster.

Dr Glen Reynolds lives partly in Alford in the north of WAK and is an Aberdeenshire councillor