LEGISLATOR Jimmy McGregor knows his days in the political arena are numbered. Not because of his age. But because the Legco representative of the premier business group, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (GCC), will probably be a casualty of localisation as the territory shakes off the yoke of colonialism. One of three non-Chinese sitting in the legislature, the 69-year-old even calls himself ''a relic of the colonial system'' and predicts he would have considerable difficulties in continuing a political career after 1997. ''There is an understandable and quite predictable leaning towards localisation within the political parties and in the political orientation of people and I quite understand that.'' He agreed that, as time went by, there would be less room for expatriates. ''I can't say it is saddening because I think it is right. Although I'm a foreigner . . . my sympathy lies to a very large extent with local people. I can see the inevitability of Hong Kong people doing their best [to run] their own affairs.'' His vocal and unswerving support of Governor Chris Patten's political package, save the part on the functional constituency, is also unlikely to be a plus in his post-1997 political future. Explaining his closeness to Mr Patten with the proverb ''great minds think alike'', Mr McGregor is perhaps the only Legco member who does not doubt Mr Patten's motives. ''I have never suspected his motive. I know exactly what it was, to expand the parameters of democratic reform in Hong Kong as far as the law and the Basic Law will permit. ''I have faith in the Governor. I have faith in his motives. I believe he is an honest person, because I have met him many times, and I can judge human beings as well as anybody else. I think he is a high quality politician, a politician who is always under examination and perhaps always misjudged.'' And he disagreed that he has been used as a pawn in ''the good politician's'' fight against China. ''I have never been asked to do anything by Mr Patten,'' said Mr McGregor, who has moved two motions in Legco this year - one in support of the Governor's proposal on the Election Committee composition and the other in general support of his package. Yet, he is well aware that his backing for Mr Patten is not without cost. ''In 1995, if I run again, I will say I will face a tremendously difficult task because China will not consider me to be the favourite person.'' He said if China wanted him out, it could run a campaign against him in next year's GCC council election similar to the one run against the Jardines director Martin Barrow this year. And it is difficult to say how much chance he and his allies have in securing their seats in next year's GCC poll, given the fact that all three new pro-China candidates beat veterans like Mr Barrow this year. Describing his commitment to Hong Kong as ''absolute'', Mr McGregor is, however, unwilling to give up his British passport for the Legco seat. ''Because I would not wish to commit myself to a Chinese passport alone and put myself therefore in the hands of the [post-1997] local political system. ''I am not afraid of being persecuted but I wouldn't like to be persecuted.'' Mr McGregor has just quit his four-year job as a director of the Hong Kong Chinese Bank, following the emergence of mainland-owned China Resources as a 50 per cent stake-holder in the bank. He said: ''There is nothing to stop a businessman from having liberal views and working with China,'' adding that he was unlucky that the bank's new partner happened to be a major arm of the central Government, which ''has taken a certain political view towards people like me''. A democrat as he is, his views on Hong Kong's economic developments have never been close to those of his liberal allies like the United Democrats of Hong Kong. Calling himself a ''conservative businessman'', Mr McGregor has been one of the strongest opposers of conducting a review of the service industries or introducing tax measures to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. ''I have good sense on what can be achieved and what cannot be achieved, what is sensible and what's not.'' He said it was nonsense to suggest somehow we should materially alter the economic system to bring a better distribution of wealth, as ''even in theory it does not make any sense''.