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Alex farmed in South Ayrshire from 1971 until his election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999. A former Community Councillor, Alex was born at Leswalt, in Wigtownshire and now lives near St John's Town of Dalry in Kirkcudbrightshire.
Married to Merryn and with 3 sons, Iain, Dougal and Christopher, Alex spent 2 years in New Zealand after leaving school, and returned to complete an ONDA in Agriculture at SAC Auchincruive before taking over the family farm in 1971.
Alex is a member and former President of the Blackface Sheepbreeders Association, and a member of the Scottish Landowners Federation and the Game Conservancy. Alex numbers rugby, curling, Scottish country dancing and folk music amongst his hobbies.
Alex was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a South of Scotland MSP. He served as principal Scottish Conservative Spokesman on Rural Affairs and Convenor of the Rural Development Committee from 2001 - 2003. In 2003 he was elected as the Constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament for Galloway & Upper Nithsdale, with a majority of 99. At the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2007, Alex was returned with an increased majority (3,333) and was subsequently elected to the prestigious position of Presiding Officer for the Scottish Parliament. To enable him to perform his duties in an completely impartial manner (and in keeping with tradition) Alex resigned from the Scottish Conservative party but remains committed to representing his constituents in Galloway and Upper Nithsdale.
Due to boundary changes Galloway and Upper Nithsdale constituency ceased to exist in 2011 and Alex stood as a Scottish Conservative in the redrawn seat of Galloway and West Dumfries in the May 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament. Alex was delighted to be elected as the constituency member for this area and will continue to represent all his constituents to the best of his ability. Alex did not put his name forward for the position of Presiding Officer for the 2011 Parliamentary term but has been returned to the Scottish Conservative front bench as Rural Affairs Spokesman.