Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross aspires to run Scotland and yet fell for a Walter Mitty figure who claimed to have worked for Labour's Jim Murphy – Susan Dalgety

I have a confession to make. I worked for Jim Murphy when he was leader of Scottish Labour.

Can Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross still be taken seriously as leader of the Opposition? (Picture: Jane Barlow/WPA pool/Getty Images)
Can Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross still be taken seriously as leader of the Opposition? (Picture: Jane Barlow/WPA pool/Getty Images)

No, really, I did. Unlike the hapless Craig Paterson, who claimed he was a “senior political adviser” to Murphy and got a top job with the Scottish Tories on the back of his colourful CV.

In a breathless email to his Holyrood colleagues a few days ago, Tory boss Douglas Ross announced his new hire would start work today.

“Craig arrives with extensive knowledge of Scottish politics, having once been a key part of Scottish Labour’s operations,” he typed, then pressed send.

Unfortunately for Ross, it turned out that Jim Murphy had never knowingly met Craig Paterson, let alone employed him.

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Soon after the news of Paterson’s appointment was announced, my phone buzzed with excitement.

“Do you know this guy?” a former colleague asked me. “No,” I replied. “It’s been puzzling me all morning.”

“Don’t worry, no-one knows him,” came the amused response. “It’s hilarious.”

Within hours, Douglas Ross was forced to sack his new hire as it emerged that Paterson had never worked for Jim Murphy, in any capacity, ever.

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The world is full of Walter Mitty characters – politics even more so. We have just endured three years of a Conservative Prime Minister who lied more often than he brushed his hair, so perhaps Craig Paterson thought embellishing his CV was the right thing to do for a job with the Scottish Tories.

Though, to be brutally honest, he could have picked a better period in Scottish Labour’s recent history. Under Jim Murphy, the party crashed to its worst defeat ever in the 2015 General Election.

I still wake up screaming in the middle of the night at the memory. It wasn’t the finest period of my career nor, to be honest, was it Murphy’s greatest moment.

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I doubt we will ever know what prompted Craig Paterson to make such an easily verifiable claim, but there must now be a big question mark over Douglas Ross.

If the leader of the Scottish Tories can’t make the most fundamental checks on someone’s CV, how can he be taken seriously as the leader of the opposition in Holyrood?