Grooming the Colonel
Interesting bylines on this Colonel Davidson puff piece (‘Ruth Davidson says she would consider standing to be an MP in future‘) written by the joint political editors of the Guardian Anushka Asthana and Heather Stewart with the standfirst “Scottish Conservative leader seen by some Tories as party’s great centrist hope hints at possible switch to Commons in 2021”.
It’s good of them to run it and it no doubt coincides with her disastrous recent Survation / Sunday Post polling. One thing in particular stood out from this – the flagging fortunes of the Ruth Davidson’s Tory project in Scotland despite the enthusiastic backing of the media she is, undoubtedly, as one commentator put it:
“Being dragged down by toxicity of May and the Westminster government.”
The polling put Labour up two points, the moribund and meaningless Liberals static on 7% and the Tories down two points. On that polling the Conservatives would lose two seats back down to 29.
In an interview with the Spectator after being asked if she would rule out coming to Westminster, the MSP “admitted”:
“I haven’t ruled it out. If devolution is going to work, then actually there has to be the ability to move between chambers and parliaments.”
What does that mean?
Devolution is now dependent on moving between parliaments? In what possible sense?
Asked about the (likely) result of the Tories coming third in Scotland behind the SNP and Labour she replied, as if answering a completely different question: “I’ve been leader of the party now for six years. My two predecessors last six and a half years.”
By 2021 she would have been in post longer than them so “then we can start other conversations”.
It was a moment of pure narcissism and an interesting insight to how her mind works: “Having failed here it’s time to move south to the big parliament where I can shine by not being quite so toxic as the pure-bred Tories.”
It’s also interesting that – as in business – in politics you get rewarded for failure.
The enthusiastic Guardian piece continues gushing:
“After seeing a revival in her party’s fortunes north of the border, she has made a growing number of interventions in UK-wide politics in recent months including … saying publicly of the sexual harassment scandal that “some pretty big shovels” would be needed to clear the stables”.
If that’s not Prime Ministerial material I don’t know what is.
The issue isn’t so much the self-serious worthy narcissism that surrounds the Colonel, the endless emptiness and facile boosterism of a politician surrounded by admirers but with so little to say. The endless desire for recognition, the need to be given gravitas, the furrowed brow, the false grievance goes on.
All politicians have their shelf-life. ‘Sunny Jim’ Callaghan looked blase in the face of crisis, Thatcher’s downfall was the Poll Tax and (improbably) being savaged by Geoffrey Howe, Major became associated with sleaze and Cash for Questions. Blair sank under the weight of his own ego.
We had hoped that her cosplay fiasco would have been the end for an over-hyped politician whose remarkable success has been based on being marginally more interesting than Annabelle Goldie.
It appears not.
The whole ‘will she won’t she’ debate is a hoot. Of course she will – as soon as she can. She’s probably sleeping in the parachute they’ll use to lower gently into some safe-haven right now, to arrive a benighted martyr, the One True King in the North etc etc.
The problem for the narrators of this blockbuster is not that Ruth Davidson is a formidable (if utterly vacuous) politician but that the Tory Party has been captured by their own far-right who are about to destroy the economy. In such a context the grooming of the Colonel is a sideshow for journalists bored of the reality of British Disaster Capitalism.