After the disastrous election result for the Conservatives there now seems to be a total consensus that Theresa May’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. Therefore, in the near future the Tory party will need a new leader and I think there’s only one obvious choice: Ruth Davidson.
With a leadership contest inevitable the jostling and re-positioning of high ranking MPs within the party has no doubt begun. Some, while in public show unwavering support for the incumbent, privately canvass for support within the darkened halls of Westminster. Others such as Philip Hammond are publicly distancing themselves from the current regime in order to build a platform from which to launch a leadership bid. Elsewhere, away from the chaos of Westminster, the Leader of the Scottish Conservatives is simply getting on with her job. Which currently is holding to account an increasingly flailing SNP administration.
On last Thursday’s edition of ‘This Week,’ Michael Portillo said that the Conservative party desperately needed to avoid a new leader who was ‘just another Tory’. Well, I’d say that a Scottish ex-army reservist, who is also currently engaged to be married to her female partner, definitely cannot be described as ‘just another Tory’. She manages to appeal to nearly every demographic. Definitely not your standard issue Etonian clone, Davidson would easier be able to relate to the average voter.
The Conservatives are only able to stay in government thanks to one woman and it certainly isn’t Arlene Foster. Since becoming leader of the Scottish Conservatives in 2011 what Ruth Davidson has achieved is not only remarkable, but would’ve been considered almost impossible during the early parts of her tenure. With her in charge at Holyrood, the Tories have doubled the number of MSPs they have within the Scottish parliament, becoming the second largest party doing so. In Westminster elections the party has gone from clinging on to existence with only one MP to increasing their number by eleven - again becoming the second largest party in Scotland. So in terms of her CV her record speaks for itself.
Her potential leadership rivals simply do not stack up against her. Philip Hammond: a notoriously big ball of charisma would unlikely be as appealing to voters as Ruth. Boris Johnson: beneath the loveable buffoon facade actually lies a very competent politician, but unfortunately after the EU referendum large swathes of the population detest him, and I don’t want to see a jar of marmite as Prime minister. Finally, Amber Rudd: she would have been well placed to launch a leadership after putting in a very good performance throughout the general election campaign. However, her Hastings & Rye seat is now a tight marginal, which essentially rules her out.
Obviously I have not yet mentioned the rather large obstacle that currently stands in Davidson’s way of becoming Prime Minister – she is not currently a member of parliament. It’s a shame that she’s an honorary colonel within an army reserve regiment and not in the RAF, as it would have allowed for a great play on words regarding the need for her to be ‘parachuted’ into a safe constituency. This is easily done, and I’m sure there’s a member of the Tory old guard that would be willing to give up their seat for promising young Conservative who was a passionate Remainer.
Speaking of which, earlier in the article I said that Ruth Davidson ticks nearly every box in terms of demographics, there is admittedly a rather large one which she does not fill. Ruth Davidson was a prominent, vocal and passionate member of the Remain campaign. She memorably appeared on the Question Time special at Wembley Arena on the eve of the referendum, in what was one of the strangest political debates in modern history. This naturally would not be popular with the right of the party. For myself, as a proud and strong supporter of leaving the EU, the idea of someone who supported remaining doesn’t particularly bother me, especially in the case of Ruth. Often when Davidson appears on television I end up involuntarily crying ‘Save us Ruth!’, but that’s just me.
The Conservatives need a leader for the 21st century, and more importantly, someone who can win. And winning can only be done from the centre ground, hence why no party gained an overall majority at the general election. Ruth Davidson is very much to the left of the Tories in many respects, and with her strong appeal with voters, she could well be the golden Tory ticket to success in the future across the United Kingdom. She’s proven herself in her homeland and already holds the balance of power in the Commons. It is time that the Scottish Tory leader steps up and takes centre stage in Westminster. I’m with Ruth.