Michelle Ballantyne

Michelle Ballantyne is a British politician who is a Conservative Member of Scottish Parliament for the South Scotland region. Ballantyne was a candidate in the February 2020 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election,[1] which she lost to Jackson Carlaw.[2]

Michelle Ballantyne

Member of the Scottish Parliament
for South Scotland
Assumed office
23 May 2017
Preceded byRachael Hamilton
Personal details
Born (1962-11-28) 28 November 1962 (age 57)
Ashton-under-Lyne, England
Political partyScottish Conservatives
Alma materRoyal London Hospital; Heriot Watt University

Early life and careerEdit

Michelle Cross was born on 28 November 1962 in Ashton-under-Lyne, the oldest of four siblings.

Michelle studied nursing at The London Hospital in East London, beginning her career working as a staff nurse in an Intensive Care Unit before progressing into a finance and management position at South West Thames Regional Health Authority.

In December 1983 Michelle married Neil Ballantyne, at that time an officer in the King's Own Scottish Borderers, with whom she now has 6 children. Neil left the British Army in the late 1980s, and they moved to the Scottish Borders in 1990 to established a manufacturing business with her husband in Walkerburn. During this period Ballantyne continued to work as a nurse and within social care, whilst also completing an Honours degree as a mature student at Heriot Watt University in Galashiels. After graduation, she returned to Health Service Management in 2000, managing an Acute Medicine department in Edinburgh.

Ballantyne and her husband sold their house and became tenants to enable Michelle to work closer to home. Ballantyne took a position in 2005 as head of an independent local charity providing specialist drug and alcohol support to children, families and offenders.[3] It was through interaction with the local council during this period that Ballantyne became involved with community politics.

Political careerEdit

Ballantyne was first elected to the Scottish Borders Council as representative for Selkirkshire in 2012, and then lead the Conservative group at the 2017 Scottish Local Elections. The Conservatives gained 5 seats and subsequently partnered with the Independent group to take control of the council from the incumbent SNP, Liberal Democrat and Independent alliance.[4] Following the election, Ballantyne was invited to join the Scottish Parliament and sworn in as an MSP on 23 May 2017[5] to replaced Rachael Hamilton, who had resigned her seat to contest the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire by-election, 2017 on 8 June.[6]

Shortly after she joined the Scottish Parliament, Ballantyne was appointed to the role of spokesperson for Childcare and Early Years, while on 3 May 2018 Ballantyne was promoted by Ruth Davidson to the Scottish Conservative front bench as spokesperson for Social Security.

Ballantyne was a candidate in the 2020 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election,[1] which she lost to Jackson Carlaw.[7] She was dropped from the Conservative frontbench team by Carlaw in a reshuffle shortly after the election.[8] On 18 February Carlaw told ITV's 'Representing Borders' that Ballantyne would be moved to an as yet unspecified position.[9]

Political controversiesEdit

During a meeting of the Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee Ballantyne claimed that "there’s no such thing as a bedroom tax",[10] disagreeing that restrictions to benefits are equivalent to the payment of tax.

Ballantyne sparked heated debate in 2018 after claiming that "people on benefit cannot have as many children as they like while people who work and pay their way and don't claim benefits have to make decisions about the number of children they can have."[11] when defending the UK Government's two child cap. She later refused to apologise for her remarks, and accused critics of having an "emotional reaction".[12] During an interview Ballantyne accused the SNP of politicising the two child cap and suggested that there was no hard evidence as to why the use of foodbanks has increased.[13] She reiterated these views in January 2020 when contesting the Scottish Conservative leadership.[1]

Criticising the SNP's record on Healthcare within a speech in the Scottish Parliament, Ballantyne said she would be "quite happy" if the Scottish Government had no role in the running the NHS in Scotland.[14]

Voluntary workEdit

Ballantyne was previously an Adult Volunteer in the Air Training Corps, during which she was commissioned as a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch).

Ballantyne is Managing Trustee of The Haining,[15] assisting volunteers with the restoration of the house and grounds.

Ballantyne is a Patron of the Food, Facts & Friends Food Bank in Penicuik.[16]

Ballantyne is a Council Member of Friends at the End.[17]


  1. ^ a b c "Tory leadership hopeful Michelle Ballantyne defends benefits stance". BBC News. BBC. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Scottish Conservatives: Jackson Carlaw succeeds Ruth Davidson as leader". BBC News. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  3. ^ https://www.michelleballantyne.org.uk/about-michelle-ballantyne
  4. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-39856649
  5. ^ "New Conservative MSP sworn in at Holyrood". BBC News. BBC. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  6. ^ "MSP Rachael Hamilton quits to fight Holyrood by-election". BBC News. BBC. 3 May 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Scottish Conservatives: Jackson Carlaw succeeds Ruth Davidson as leader". BBC News. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  8. ^ Woods, Emily (18 February 2020). "Jackson Carlaw removes rival Michelle Ballantyne from shadow cabinet". Holyrood Magazine. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  9. ^ https://twitter.com/ITVBorderRB/status/1229830528494428160
  10. ^ "Views on the Bedroom Tax". Welfare Weekly. 21 February 2019.
  11. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-45970837/michelle-ballantyne-msp-people-on-benefits-cannot-have-as-many-children-as-they-like
  12. ^ "Tory MSP: poor people should stop having children". Third Force News. 25 October 2018.
  13. ^ "New Tory welfare spokesperson accuses SNP of politicising 'rape clause'". ITV. 9 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Tory MSP: Government should not be running NHS in Scotland". The Scotsman. 3 April 2019.
  15. ^ https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/councillor-recruited-take-plans-forward-745606
  16. ^ http://www.midlothianview.com/news/foodbank-responds-to-grassy-riggs-concerns/
  17. ^ https://friends-at-the-end.org.uk/about/