2007 - 2021

Taxi for Davidson

Enoch Powell’s famous quote that “all political careers end in failure” rings down the years as cliche and truism. It’s harsh but true that Ruth Davidson’s career started in failure too. Despite the warm glow of media adulation the truth is that she has not won any election in Scotland during her 8 years as leader and led the Tories into their worst election (EU 2019, 11.6%).

Now she is, in the words of Tommy Sheppard:

“…a busted flush – Boris Johnson has humiliated her and left her authority non-existent following the sacking of David Mundell.”

“That was despite her bid to keep him in post, which was completely ignored by the new PM. This is a clear sign from Boris Johnson about how little he rates Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories. He is ignoring them just as much as he will ignore the rest of Scotland through the course of his premiership.”

As Alister Jack settles into his new office, and seem to be able to lower the bar set by the outgoing David Mundell, severe issues face the Scottish Conservative Party and its beleaguered leader.

Only a few months ago, Ruth Davidson was being touted not just as a Cabinet member but as a future Prime Minister. Seriously.

Martin Kettle wrote enthusiastically in the Guardian:

“Cameron had a succession plan that isn’t on the cards this time. He had intended, after winning the European referendum, to reshuffle his cabinet for the remainder of his premiership. One of his moves would have been to confer a peerage on the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, and make her defence secretary, sitting in the House of Lords. The aim was to help to position her to be Cameron’s chosen successor. At some point between then and Cameron’s departure, the plan went, Davidson would “do a Douglas-Home” and move to the Commons – as Harold Macmillan’s successor, the Earl of Home, had done in 1963. Davidson would remain in the government, renounce her peerage, and be fast-tracked into a safe Commons seat. There would be a byelection, and she would then be in the Commons, in a box seat to win the leadership – the best bet to stop Johnson, and all with Cameron’s backing. Who can say whether all this would in fact have occurred if events had not got in the way in 2016?”

Who indeed Martin.

Matthew Norman joined in writing: “Ruth Davidson is the relatable leader the Tories so desperately need as PM”.

John Rentoull joined the throng penning a ridiculous piece: “I’m convinced Ruth Davidson could be the next prime minister…”

Chris McCall chipped in with this “Could Ruth Davidson be Prime Minister?”

Political commentator David Torrance joined in pointing out that, constitutionally, being an MP is not a prerequisite to becoming prime minister. “Sir Alec Douglas-Home was PM for two weeks without being an MP, pending a by-election in Perth,” he said.

In an over-enthusiastic piece in the Scotsman (accompanied with gushing video), Paris Gourtsoyannis wrote (‘Scots Tories plot to keep Boris Johnson out of Downing St‘):

“Senior Scottish Tories are involved in a plot to keep Boris Johnson out of Downing Street over fears his leadership would destroy the party’s revival north of the Border.”

In a remarkable sentence Gourtsoyannis writes: “Internal party polling and analysis shows victory for Mr Johnson in a leadership contest to succeed Theresa May would boost the Labour Party in Scotland, putting at risk several of the Westminster seats the Tories won in 2017 and making it impossible for Ruth Davidson to become First Minister.”

And on and on it went relentlessly, unquestioning enthusiasm for an under-achieving mediocrity. It was the apogee of style over substance, the high point of lifestyle over ideas.

The scribes are a bit quieter now. Operation Arse is over. Davidson is saddled with Johnson’s homophobia and her power, such as it ever was, has vanished. She’s been completely undermined and humiliated.

This isn’t just schadenfreude.

Come the next general election, or the next Scottish election, this will matter. The media’s eager efforts to talk-up Davidson as a powerful voice within the Conservative Party, with the PM’s ear and only a step outside high office herself, has gone. To say the party’s not exactly over-brimming with talent to replace her is an understatement.

The Scottish Conservatives face a quandary over Brexit as the most rare challenging interview exposed:


Whatever purpose Davidson served for the centrist fantasies of a dozen political columnists that dream is now over.

In its place is the reality of a No Deal Brexit overseen by Union Jack. Some people have got some explaining to do.

Comments (12)

Leave a Reply to Michelle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    A well documented list of failures and an exemplification of how the self proclaimed ‘progressive’ media drooled about her.

    I suspect that they will continue to do so for a wee while yet until they find out if they have another cipher to put in her place. In the meantime, expect a barrage of SNPbaaaad stories and failing Scotland stories – ‘throwing a dead cat on the table’.

    We can expect vitriol over the next months surpassing the mendacity of the 2014 campaign. We have heard it in the few opening statements by Ms Jo Swinson, who is clearly seeking to corral the one-nation Tories within the right hand end of the spectrum. The LibDems, Tories and Brexit, cumulatively are close to 50% in the polls. Ms Swinson was an enthusiastic austerian in the Cameron government. She might become the pin-up girl of the Scottish media to replace the Colonel.

    1. Jo says:


      I was saying here just yesterday that Davidson’s jaiket appears to be on a shoogly peg. She has obviously crossed Johnson, we knew that but I wonder if the Scottish Tory faithful will be as keen on him as the likes of young Douglas Ross and his pals.

      Isn’t it interesting too that Johnson has brought even Annabel Goldie into the fold? He’s giving all these folks “Scotland” jobs yet there’s Ruthie sitting there, the “leader” in Scotland, being ignored. Is he challenging her? Is a challenge to her own position on the way? (I nearly felt sorry for her. Nearly.)

      On Swinson…from what I’ve seen and heard from her this week I’m thinking LibDems must be asking why they voted for her as leader. She’s crashed and burned in more interviews than I could keep track off. Her mouth goes into gear ahead of her brain and she trips up repeatedly. She comes over like a head prefect.

      Plus, I don’t mean this to sound nasty, but she really does seem to be trying hard to bury all trace of a Scots accent. What is that about?

      I saw her on Politics Live yesterday and, honestly, I was horrified. She was lambasting Corbyn one minute and saying the next that she had written asking for his support. (She’d declared on Tuesday that she wouldn’t work with him.) Clive Lewis was in the studio and explained Labour’s thinking on not going for a vote of no confidence immediately. But, no. She ranted on. Lewis tried repeatedly to clarify to no avail. Even Jo Coburn was losing the will to live! Talk about embarrassing!

      I’m sorry for LibDem voters in England who’ve seen something of a recovery lately. Whatever strides they’ve made, Swinson will reverse pronto. Someone really should have a word with her.

      1. Michelle says:

        Yes, I don’t think the Libdem rwmai ers in England fully appreciated that Swinson is more concerned with chaining Scotland to the UK than UK remaining in EU.

  2. Ann Rayner says:

    Unfortunately your facts about her not winning an election are not correct. As an Edinburgh Central resident, I know Ms Davidson was elected for that Constitiuency in 2016.
    Previously i think she had stood unsuccessfully for a Glasgow constituency, but got a seat on the regional list. However, i think she saw her chance in Edinburgh Central, where a green candidate also stood, and this may have affected the result. I think she was elected by a fairly narrow margin and has held very few, if any surgeries in the area. She also does not reply to letters or emails despite the fact that I am one of her constituents.

    1. Jo says:

      That’s interesting Ann. I’m surprised she doesn’t answer inquiries from her constituents. I’d assumed she’d be very attentive to that sort of thing.

      1. Margaret Brogan says:

        Jo. I have heard the fact that Ruth Davidson doesn’t hold surgeries for her constituents, frequently and trying to correspond with her is waste if time.

    2. Ann – I meant that as leader she has never successfully led her party to electoral success.

    3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      The Green candidate in Edinburgh was Alison Johnstone, and a number of people who have been voting tactically for the SNP perhaps felt they had a candidate of substance and gave her their vote, as they were also voting for a pro independence candidate. In these circumstances, where the Tory vote held firm, possibly boosted by a few tactically voting LibDem and Labour supporters, Ms Davidson was able to edge ahead. I think it was carpetbagger opportunism by Ms D.

      As far as the Scottish Tory heid bummers were concerned Ms D was the suitably malleable candidate to follow Annabelle Goldie. She had worked for Ms Goldie for some years and had had media training when she was at the BBC. Murdo Fraser’s plans to make the Scottish Tories independent of the UK Party was just too radical for the membership – many of whom were born in England. The fact that these two were the best options shows the dearth of talent in the Scottish Tory ranks.

    4. Robert says:

      Sorry to hear that Ruth D isn’t doing her job of responding to her constituents’ concerns, Ann.
      I’m not a constituent of Ruth’s (my local MSP is the much more responsive Daniel Johnson) so I didn’t realise how privileged I was to actually get a reply to my recent open letter (https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/06/06/an-open-letter-to-ruth-davidson-from-extinction-rebellion-scotland/).
      Mind you I did lock myself to the railings of Parliament as a prelude, so maybe it’s worth giving that a shot — say at her constituency office? Perhaps along with some other constituents who feel the same way about her lack of responsiveness…

  3. Mary McCabe says:

    She never mentioned any of the Tories’ toxic policies. Her own sole “policy” (reworded & repeated 100x a day and spread like the Gospel by the media) was: “Stop Sturgeon’s obsession with indyref2.” The Tories don’t do irony.

  4. MBC says:

    Very prescient Mike. I fear there is worse to come. I wonder what Ruth will do now? Will she leave politics or will she suddenly embrace Johnson and a No Deal Brexit? I wonder what she is really made of.

    1. lordmac says:

      Wonder if ,Ruth has claimed her expenses for her surgeries,

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.