Jackson has been an MSP since 2007, serving two terms initially as a regional MSP for the West of Scotland before being elected as the constituency member for Eastwood in May of 2016. Jackson was the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives having been appointed by Ruth Davidson in 2011 and was previously Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Europe and External Affairs having led on health for almost nine years prior. In September 2018, Jackson became Interim Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, covering for Ruth Davidson whilst she was on maternity leave, taking up the role again in September 2019 when she stood down from the position. On Friday 14th February 2020, Jackson was elected as Leader of the Scottish Conservatives in a vote of party members.
Before becoming an MSP Jackson worked in the retail motor industry for 25 years and has been involved in the Conservative Party since his mid-teens when he joined locally in East Renfrewshire. He has held various voluntary positions including National Chairman of the Scottish Young Conservatives (1984/86), Chairman of Eastwood Conservatives (1988/92) and was appointed Vice, then Deputy Chairman of Scottish Conservatives by John Major (1992/98) and served again in 2005/06 when he was also on the UK Party Board.
Jackson is married with two adult sons and now lives in Waterfoot in Eastwood. Outside of politics, Jackson is interested in theatre generally and film. He reads extensively (biographies, historical and crime fiction being typical picks) and enjoys (light!) walking around Scotland although in recent years this has been complemented by some sterner efforts during the summer in the Swiss Alps. He is also a reasonable cook.
In 1997 Jackson spent the night of the general election on STV's election programme commenting as the party lost every seat in Scotland. In May 2016 he was finally able to complement this with an all-night stint on BBC Scotland's election programme as the Scottish Conservatives staged a recovery, winning 31 Holyrood seats and becoming the principal party of opposition in the Scottish Parliament.