Carlaw in 2016
|Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party|
14 February 2020 - 30 July 2020
Acting: 29 August 2019 - 14 February 2020
15 September 2018 - 3 May 2019
|Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party|
10 November 2011 - 3 September 2019
|Member of the Scottish Parliament |
5 May 2016
|Member of the Scottish Parliament |
for West Scotland
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
3 May 2007 - 5 May 2016
David Jackson Carlaw
12 April 1959
Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, Scotland
|Political party||Scottish Conservatives|
|Education||The Glasgow Academy|
|Alma mater||Bell College|
David Jackson Carlaw (born 12 April 1959) is a Scottish Conservative Party politician who served as Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party from February to July 2020. He has been Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Eastwood since 2016.
Raised in Newton Mearns, Carlaw worked as a car salesman after education at The Glasgow Academy and Bell College. Elected to the Scottish Parliament on the West of Scotland regional list in 2007, he served as the Scottish Conservatives' Spokesperson for Health from 2011 to 2016, and Culture, Tourism and External Affairs from 2016 to 2020. He served as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party under Ruth Davidson from 2011 to 2019.
Carlaw served as acting Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party from September 2018 to May 2019 during Davidson's maternity leave and from August 2019 to February 2020 following Davidson's resignation as leader. He was elected Scottish Conservative leader in the February 2020 leadership election, winning more than three-quarters of votes from party members. He resigned the leadership in July 2020, stating he was not the person best placed to lead the party into the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
Carlaw was brought up in Crookfur, Newton Mearns, and was educated at The Glasgow Academy and Bell College, where he studied Shipping Management. He worked for 25 years as a car salesman and was joint head of FirstFord car dealership in the west of Scotland until it was placed into receivership in November 2002. He was also a director of Wylies (Automotive Services) until it went into administration in February 2003.
Carlaw joined the East Renfrewshire Conservatives in 1978. He was the Conservative candidate in the 1982 Queen's Park by-election, and in the 1983 general election in Glasgow Pollok. He was Chairman of the Scottish Young Conservatives from 1984 to 1986, Chairman of Eastwood Conservatives from 1988 to 1992, and was Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives from 1992 to 1998. He was reappointed Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives in 2005.
In the run-up to the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum Carlaw campaigned against the formation of a devolved Scottish Parliament alongside the Scottish Conservatives and the Think Twice campaign, advocating a No vote for both the question of the parliament's formation and whether the parliament should be granted tax-varying powers.
Carlaw was unsuccessful as a candidate for Eastwood in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 Scottish Parliament elections. He was, however, elected on the party list under Scotland's additional member system in 2007 and 2011, representing the West of Scotland region. He became the MSP for Eastwood in 2016, after defeating the incumbent Ken Macintosh. He sits on the European and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
In 2011, Carlaw stood as a candidate in the leadership election brought on by Annabel Goldie's resignation. During the campaign, he was hospitalised with appendicitis. Carlaw finished third behind Ruth Davidson and Murdo Fraser. He was appointed as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives by Ruth Davidson in 2011, and had been Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport for almost nine years. He was re-appointed as of 28 June 2017 as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Europe and External Affairs.
In September 2016, he was elected Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Building Bridges with Israel, the establishment of which he pledged to help in his 2016 election campaign. In February 2017, Carlaw was appointed Deputy Convener of the Cross Party Group on End-of-life Choices.
Carlaw supported remain during the 2016 EU referendum and attacked Boris Johnson. Since the referendum result, he has supported both Brexit and Johnson, including in his role as interim Scottish Conservative leader.
Following an attempt in March 2017 by the SNP to hold a second Scottish independence referendum, Carlaw spoke against the attempt, describing it as "pointless" and unwanted". He pledged the Scottish Conservatives would not allow for a further referendum until the Scottish public showed clear support.
Carlaw opposed the SNP's changes to council tax in November 2016, believing the proposed changes would effectively put over 50% of property in East Renfrewshire in the top two council tax bands. Commenting against the decision, he maintained "the rise would unfairly hit working families and the elderly" and "will hit Eastwood residents hard".
Carlaw dismissed the initial stages of the June 2018 bill to reform local council planning by the SNP as a "power grab". The proposed legislation, which provisioned for the monitoring and training of local councillors in relation to planning, was argued as containing "too much centralisation" and was opposed by Carlaw in a parliamentary debate, in which he claimed the added power such a bill would give Holyrood would be "a dangerous trend to set".
Carlaw opposed the sale and privatisation of the only public residential care home in East Renfrewshire in December 2016. He described it as a "betrayal" to the families and residents within his constituency who relied on the care home by a council "unwilling to properly look at any options other than privatisation".
In a press release reacting to proposed changes to parking regulations by the Eastwood council in November 2016, Carlaw spoke in favour of protecting local businesses from the potentially negative effects of the changes, suggesting several amendments to ensure the changes were "substantially rethought to protect local businesses".
Carlaw served as acting leader of the Scottish Conservatives while leader Ruth Davidson was on maternity leave from September 2018 until May 2019. Following her resignation in August 2019, he was appointed to serve a second term. He was the incumbent when Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the 2019 general election, in which the party lost seven of their 13 seats from 2017.
On 6 January 2020, Carlaw confirmed his candidacy for the February 2020 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election and launched his campaign in Edinburgh on 15 January. He received support from Ruth Davidson, Murdo Fraser,Adam Tomkins,Liz Smith,Annie Wells and Jamie Greene. This gave Carlaw the position of favourite over his opponent Michelle Ballantyne. He centred his campaign around how he could beat Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in the next Scottish Parliament election and the local elections in 2022. He also promised to make the Scottish Conservatives more for the middle and working classes and continue to maintain the Scottish Conservatives as the main party of the Union. Carlaw won the election with 4,917 votes in his favour, as opposed to 1,581 for Ballantyne. He promised to provide a "clear, focused and ambitious alternative to the SNP".
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Greens accused Carlaw in June 2020 of claiming an "outright falsehood" when he said the Scottish Parliament could be opened up quickly in order to hold the SNP government to account. He initially supported the position of Boris Johnson to stick by Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings after alleged lockdown breaches but withdrew his support following criticism from leading figures in the Scottish party.
On 30 July 2020, Carlaw announced his resignation as Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, stating he had reached the "simple if painful conclusion" he was not "the person best placed" to lead the party into the next Scottish Parliament election. He was succeeded by Douglas Ross.
Carlaw lives in Giffnock. He is married and has two sons.
| Member of the Scottish Parliament for Eastwood
|Party political offices|
| Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party
| Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party
Annie Wells and