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We Asked 5 New Scottish Tory MSPs For A Surprising Fact About Themselves

Days after the Scottish Tories become the second biggest party in Holyrood, we found out about the new crop of MSPs – including the revelation that one danced for Belle and Sebastian.

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Are you surprised to be here?

I'm not surprised to be here – I knew going in to the final stages of the campaign we had a good chance, but it wasn't until election night that we knew we were on the right side of the line.

Why did you do so well?

It was a whole range of factors, but ultimately people wanted a strong opposition to hold the SNP to account, and in Dumfriesshire people think we've had scraps from the table from the SNP over the last nine years and they wanted to make sure we'd see some serious investment and have a strong voice.

What's the weirdest thing about Holyrood so far?

I'm very disappointed there isn't a bin in my office. There's a new system of recycling, which is all to the good but it does mean you have to store your rubbish across the day and sort it into recycling bins. But I'm getting used to it and pleased to be doing my bit to help keep Scotland beautiful.

Have we reached "peak nat" [the phrase used by Tory leader Ruth Davidson meaning the SNP has reached its high point]?

I think what happened in this election, and what the SNP didn't understand, is that the [pro-independence] 45% isn't one block, there are different voices. Some will support independence forever, but others recognise we've had a two-year debate about it and it's time to move on.

Will Ruth Davidson be first minister one day?

I don't see any reason why not. She'd be a fantastic figure in any sort of government in the Scottish parliament – she's shown she has all the skills and qualities to do anything.

How are you voting in the EU referendum?

I haven't decided yet, I've been listening to local people out and about and I'm looking forward to the debate getting started.

Tell me something interesting about yourself.

I was once a backing dancer for Belle and Sebastian on stage at Somerset House.

Excuse me? For what song?

It was for the whole concert. I won a competition as one of their biggest fans.

Were you taught how to dance or was it your own interpretive dance?

It was all choreographed – it was taught to us for a few hours beforehand.

I did not expect this answer.

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Are you surprised to be here?

Not particularly – I was number two on the Lothians list, Ruth was number one. We hoped we'd both be elected and get a third, but Ruth won her constituency and we got three on the list anyway. That was beyond our hopes.

Why did the Tories do so well?

Ruth has really connected with people across Scotland. In the past few months of campaigning people saw how she's grown over the past five years as an MSP and people wanted to see her do well in this election. But also our key message of holding the SNP to account; when you combine those two things, that's delivered our result.

Do you think we've reached "peak nat"?

I do, and you have to look at where they go from here. I think the next target for us is to re-engage with people who vote SNP and try to persuade them to vote Conservative. SNP voters are not our enemy, they're our neighbours, and the next five years are our chance to connect with the whole Scottish electorate.

What's the weirdest thing about Holyrood?

The amount of concrete. It feels like parts of the building are unfinished – the stairwells feel like a multi-storey car park.

Will Ruth Davidson be first minister?

I hope so but we're not getting above ourselves. We've taken this success based on people giving us a job to do and they will judge us on that. But the way Ruth has built the party and made it recover in Scotland, I hope we can work towards being the largest party after the next election, but that's up to the voters.

How will you vote in the EU referendum?

I want to vote to Remain. I respect people in my party will be doing different but I want to see Scotland remain in the UK and the EU.

Tell me something interesting about yourself.

How do you mean?

Something that people would be surprised a Tory MSP would do. Oliver Mundell was a backing dancer for Belle and Sebastian.

Really? When?

He won a competition.

I cant think of anything. This sounds really boring.

Don't worry, I've been asked this at job interviews and I panic. Take your time.

My sister had a job interview and the first question was "what's your opinion on zoos?" and it completely threw her. She was like, shit, there's no right or wrong answer to that. I can't beat being a backing dancer, crikey. Can I get back to you on that?

Briggs later told BuzzFeed News his great-grandfather John Forbes was capped five times for Scotland and won the FA Cup.

Are you surprised to be here?

I thought it was possible but it ended up easier than I expected. As the votes started coming in it looked really good.

Why did you do so well?

We have a clear message – no to a second referendum, no to higher taxes – and it's largely down to Ruth.

What's the weirdest thing about Holyrood?

The layout is very confusing. I put my car in the underground car park yesterday and thought I was going out to the street but I ended up back in the corridor where my office is.

Have we reached "peak nat"?

I'd like to hope so. The wheels have started coming off, I'm sure about that. As voters examine them more closely, yes.

Will Ruth Davidson be first minister one day?

There's a long way to go, but that's a nice thought.

Have you decided how to vote in the EU referendum?

I'll be voting to leave. It's a democracy thing – it's an undemocratic institution. Decisions are taken by unelected people that affect the UK and I don't think you can support an organisation like that.

Tell me something interesting about yourself.

I'm a jazz fan. I'm hoping I'll now have time to attend some gigs. I've been working nights as a journalist for 20 years so it'll be nice to go and see some sax players.

Are you surprised to be here?

I was confident we'd get two on the Highlands and Islands list, and I was top of the list, so I was encouraged I would get in, but to get three on that list was a great result and we had a huge increase in Moray as well.

Why did you do so well?

It's clear Ruth's campaign had the correct strategy. She led from the front – it was clear people wanted a change in opposition, Ruth said she's up for the job, and now we have to show the public who put their trust in us that they can be rewarded.

What's the weirdest thing about Holyrood?

Maybe not the weirdest thing I've seen, but I asked the chief executive of parliament where the nearest hairdresser was and then I looked at him and realised he was bald, so probably not the best person to ask.

Have we reached "peak nat"?

In an awful lot of rural areas the public are turning against the SNP and it's up to us to capitalise on that and prove we are where these SNP voters should go to.

Can Ruth Davidson be first minister?

I think we'll be campaigning to make sure she's a strong leader of the opposition and to show that's the case and then the public can decide in five years' time.

How are you voting in the EU referendum?

I'm one of these people who says "the EU isn't perfect, but…" and I think anyone who says that is probably going to vote to stay in and that's what I'm going to do.

Tell me something interesting about yourself, you've already told me about your refereeing.

I'm trained in the artificial insemination of dairy cows.

Are you surprised to be here?

I'm surprised so many of us are here, and delighted there are three of us from the Highlands.

Why did the Tories do so well?

We wanted to do one thing in particular and that was hold the government to account and be a strong opposition. Lots of people who maybe wouldn't normally vote Conservative gave us the trust to do what they asked us to do. That's what we have to deliver.

What's the weirdest thing about Holyrood?

I don't know, trying to find my way around probably. When you get lost, as I have, they're very quick to point you in the right direction.

Have we reached "peak nat"?

I want to make sure that what we've just done, to put ourselves forward as the opposition, is continued. Only if we continue to do what we've said we're going to do…

Will Ruth Davidson be first minister one day?

I think Ruth Davidson is an excellent leader and I'll follow her in any position she wants to take up.

How will you vote in the EU referendum?

I've decided that I'm going to look at all the options but my natural inclination is to follow the position I did in the independence referendum and say we're better off together, so I'm leaning towards staying in.

Can you tell me something interesting about yourself?

I'm not sure I can do that.

Douglas Ross says he can artificially inseminate cows.

I can do that too.

That'll do.

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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