LOTHIAN Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan is to stand down at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections, the party has announced.
He is the latest in a long list of Conservative politicians quitting Holyrood, including his fellow Lothian MSP Gavin Brown.
I don’t see this as retirement – I don’t smoke and I don’t have any slippersCameron Buchanan
But the announcement of Mr Buchanan’s departure comes just two weeks after he told friends he planned to seek re-election.
He has only been an MSP for 18 months, after filling the vacancy left by the death of former Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie in August 2013.
Mr Buchanan, 68, recently told one friend he was keen to stand again, adding: “I’m just getting my teeth into it.”
But today he said he had changed his mind because there was so much interest within the party in standing for election in the Lothians.
He said: “I felt there were so many people wanting to stand in Edinburgh – there was an avalanche. That was the reason that persuaded me in the end. I will be over 70 by the end of the next parliament and there are very good young people who want to stand. I decided it was time for me to step down.”
Mr Buchanan, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010 and uses a mobility scooter to get around the parliament, said his health was not a factor in his decision.
“My health is fine,” he said. “The tumour has gone. I’m a lot better than I have been. That’s not the reason.”
He said he had not been put under pressure to quit. “It was my decision,” he said.
And he said he hoped to continue to be involved in the party. “I don’t see this as retirement,” he said. “I don’t smoke and I don’t have any slippers.”
Mr Buchanan, a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Tories, was a textile entrepreneur before becoming an MSP, serving as managing director of woollen merchants Harrisons of Edinburgh. He speaks five languages and led many trade delegations on overseas trips.
He has also had an official diplomatic role as honorary consul for Iceland since taking over the job from broadcaster Magnus Magnusson in 1993.
Mr Buchanan has historical family political roots in Edinburgh.
One of his great, great, great uncles, Sir George Harrison, was Lord Provost between 1882 and 1885 and was then elected MP for Edinburgh South, but died a month later without ever taking his seat.
The Harrison Arch at Blackford Hill was built as a memorial to him and two streets in the city – Harrison Road and Harrison Gardens – are also named after him.
Gavin Brown, who has been an MSP since 2007, announced last month he would not stand for re-election next year, saying he wanted “a fresh challenge”.
The party is adopting a new system for choosing which candidates get top places on the regional lists next year – the way most Tory MSPs are likely to be elected.
It will see people who pledged to vote Tory in recent elections given the chance along with party members to rank hopefuls in order of preference.