2007 - 2021

From Operation Arse to Project Elbow

Amid the torrent of wishful-thinking, history re-writing and gushing-hagiography that’s under way about Ruth Davidson’s career thus far, it’s maybe worth a re-cap.

All good comedians have a catch-phrase. Chewin’ the Fat’s “Gonna no do that”, Victor Mildrew’s “I don’t believe it!”. Ruth Davidson had her own: “We said No and we meant it!”.

It’s repeated by her disciples like the Jesus prayer in Franny and Zooey, to a point where, in a manner similar to a Zen koan, it becomes unconscious, almost like a heartbeat.

It was remarkably successful in gathering the disparate Unionist block in one place and electorally it meant she could lead the Scottish Tories from complete insignificance to the margins (a high-water mark of 13 seats – out of 59 – in the 2017 general election), a feat for which she has been rightly lauded. As many have pointed out she seemed to have very little substance, very little to say about anything other than her catchphrase. But isn’t that just how politics are? You have a slogan, a series of photo-ops and an image which you project relentlessly. In this desultory mould of career politicians she was a roaring success, but as an actual leader, or someone contributing to public life she was often an embarrassment and frequently a disgrace. If it wasn’t for her attendant coterie of media fluffers you might have thought she was a hoax, a parody social media account made real.

Today they are in overdrive Alex Massie uttering: “Earlier this summer one of her closer colleagues speculated to me about her future. Ruth wasn’t at the top of her game, he said, and worse her heart didn’t seem to be in it either. There was something afoot, something tired and even lacklustre about her. The Scottish Tories as a whole were becalmed and lacking in energy, ideas, and purpose. The idea Davidson might become first minister following the 2021 elections had been quietly dropped; the party was not behaving like a party that was getting ready to prepare for life in government.”

I love the line: “The idea Davidson might become first minister following the 2021 elections had been quietly dropped.”

Not to be outdone Stephen Daisley writes a eulogy describing her as “Boudica in a power suit” and explaining that “Davidson is not a nationalist but she understands how they think because she is a patriot. Where they see Scotland as a victim held back by Westminster, she sees the UK as a sacred trust between nations and people”.

And how that sacred trust is imperiled today with the loss of the Buckhaven Bouica.

Chris Deerin laments the nations loss in the New Statesman describing it as a “new moment of danger for the Union” and worries “there is no obvious person to replace her”.

For the supporters of the Davidson she had two unique attributes. First she was gay and this was wonderful, a merit badge for the Tory Party for tolerating such a thing and proof-positive that they were no longer mired in homophobia – you’ll remember the Tory party that under Margaret Thatcher introduced section 28 banning councils from “intentionally” promoting homosexuality – and under Iain Duncan Smith tried to force its MPs to vote against proposals allowing gay and unmarried couples to adopt?

Secondly she didn’t go to a private school and this was the subject of another big shiny badge for Conservatives who had never come across such a thing before: “Look aren’t we ordinary, just like you!” they squealed in astonishment.

The reality is that if you got 1000 people in Scotland and asked them what policy they associated with Ruth Davidson I suspect the only one anyone would come up with is support for the Rape Clause.

The obsession with personality led to some serious political misjudgement, by people that are supposedly professional political writers, most obvious the claims that Ruth Davidson was on the verge of becoming First Minister, or even Prime Minister.

But despite the personal attributes Davidson’s real downfall was that she could not successfully distance herself from her own political party, despite years of evasion and support in this effort. This is where Operation Arse met Project Elbow.

In this we are led to believe that this is all about her personal life – a further and consistent evasion – and not about the abject chaos her party are dragging us into.

Her bleating about work-life balance will gather little sympathy for people who live in Tory Britain, on the breadline, at the foodbank, in sub-standard housing, and suffering the effects of her party’s economic ideology and punitive austerity. So cry me a river, its tough being a parent in the UK is it? I suspect its about to get a lot tougher as No Deal beckons, and we would do well as the tributes rain down to remember this single lie: “What is the process for removing our EU citizenship? Voting Yes.”

It was a lie and a calculated lie and she’s a hypocrite who has been found out. That is all.

We should remember too her comments from 2016 when she was speaking at an event attended by Prime Minister Theresa May when she told the audience: “I’m delighted we have such spectacular surroundings…”

“Usually they put the Scots in a place where nothing can be broken. Or stolen for that matter!”

Back in 2012 she claimed almost nine out of 10 Scottish households take more from the public purse than they contribute in taxes.

This is the reality of the game-changing new Conservatism of Davidson who was quite happy to watch Tory policy rain down on Scottish society until it became personally inconvenient to her political aspirations.

Davidson’s career has taught us a lot about the state of the media, the low-bar of expectation for the Scottish Conservatives, the obsession with lifestyle, and the extent to which senior politicians can avoid scrutiny, but her departure tells us nothing about parenting or motherhood.


[Image credit: Daily Reckless : https://www.dailyreckless.com/]

Comments (32)

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  1. Wullie says:

    Davidson’s was a planned pregnancy, she would re-surface once Brexit was all sorted and take up the reins again. Unfortunately “events” got in the way, Theresa was toast, Mundell sacked and her band of MP’s weren’t singing from her hymn-sheet anyhow.
    There’s no honesty from this woman, she suddenly realises she has a family she planned anyhow. Any excuse will do, better this story than a hammering at the polls. Bring on the potty prof’.

  2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    You could have included in the litany, the toe-curling encomium on Channel 4 News on Thursday, by the fawning Ciaran Jenkins.

    As recently as a fortnight ago the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee and Martin Kettle were praising her, in the faint hope that she might be a focus for opposition to Mr Boris Johnson.

    1. I could have – and much more …

      1. Alistair Robertson says:

        Oh you should have. This is a great piece, but one where definitely less wouldn’t be more. It’s nice to have a gloat now and again. Even more so when there’s a Tory involved.

  3. Jo says:

    This woman, renowned, for, “telling it like it is”, for giein’ Boris laldy in live TV debates, in the end, went very quietly indeed.

    There’s no doubt that her exit has everything to do with the current leadership and his handler’s future plans. Davidson knows Johnson isn’t in charge, Cummings is. I don’t believe there’s no link between all that’s gone on and her exit. I just wish she’d had more courage and blasted the Johnson Project as she should have. For, in the end, she bottled it big-time.

    1. Bill says:

      But Jo, what else would you expect? What policies did she ever embrace? She was always talking the talk. Her election leaflet for the euro elections mentioned Nichola Sturgeon 13 times and total opposition to another independence referendum. Where was she on the totally unnecessary austerity project? Talked a lot about the NHS, but the Tory privatisation, never mentioned – and the USA trade deal will kill it stone dead.

      Have to say that charisma, in the end, is not enough – she like Boris is another Toom Tabard.

      Sadly she will be replaced by one of Mike’s Top 30 Toxic Tories!!!


      1. Jo says:

        All true Bill.

        I watched “The Nine” last night. Talk about cringeworthy! You’d have thought Davidson had actually BEEN FM for eight years. On the other hand, the SNP’s Keith Brown was treated like dirt. BBC Scotland eh? Shameless!

  4. Millsy says:

    Thank you , Mike !
    The only truthful ‘obituary’ of this faux politician that I have read or heard since ‘the special one’ decided that she didn’t want to be First Minister ( pause for laughter) and rode off in the huff into the sunset ( on a tank or buffalo- we were not told ! ).
    Talk about Fake News ! Her whole political career has been invented by her supporters in the Fourth Estate – God alone knows why she was granted such respect from seasoned journos , although the fact that they were unionists and required an antidote to the rise of independence may have been their motive .

    Goodbye , Ruth , though I suspect that you will soon be gracing the airwaves in countless ‘celebrity’ appearances as her expert opinion is sought by plastic presenters , gushing in their praise of another plastic celeb !

  5. Chris Ballance says:

    One small point Mike – Section 28 wasn’t a ban on promoting homosexuality. It banned councils from “promoting homosexuality as acceptable”. So no teacher or counsellor could tell a conflicted school pupil “it’s ok to be gay”. That’s not the same as promoting homosexuality, the ban was much worse than that. Sorry to bring up the details of a very old argument.

    1. Thanks Chris, worth noting …

  6. Welsh Sion says:

    In the fullness of time, I expect her erstwhile meeja colleagues will resurrect her to present some TV series called, “Ruth’s Scotland” – and for her (maybe by then or later), to be made, Baroness Davidson of Mooth.

  7. Graeme McCormick says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if she resurfaced as a candidate for a Tory seat in England in four years time.

    Interesting to see if she’ll stand for Holyrood in 2021.

    1. Millsy says:

      Surprised that she hasn’t resigned from Holyrood as she ‘claimed’ that she wanted more time with her wean and her tank !

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        She did not resign from Holyrood because, since she is a constituency MSP, there would have to be a bye-election and there is a distinct chance it would be won by the SNP.

        My feeling is she will be ‘elevated’ to the House of Lords, which willbe a nice earner for her.

        1. Jo says:

          I know where I’d elevate her to!

        2. Kenmath says:

          Thought of her and Baroness Mone being “the voice of Scotland” in the Lords s frankly stomach-turning

      2. Wul says:


        “Surprised that she hasn’t resigned from Holyrood as she ‘claimed’ that she wanted more time with her wean and her tank !”

        £1,000 /week ( plus expenses) as an MSP? She’ll hold onto that, thank you very much. It’s a part-time job after all. Leaves plenty of time to raise a child and return when the photo opps are better.

    2. Bill says:

      She may well so do – and then try to resurrect the Tory party in order that it will live forever. Of course we will then get e rerun on Ruth for PM. What fun. If however by then Scotland has achieved independence, then the English loons may well not take to her. Of course how will that sit with family etc? Interesting to compare this situation with that in New Zealand where the PM seems to manage the job and family OK


  8. David Hope says:

    MSM going into orgasmic overdrive.
    She was outdone by her OO compatriot across the water in Norn Iron
    Rape Clawz Ruth with all her power and influence got Scotland absolutely zilch, nowt, nada, nothing
    Arlene Foster got her party £2 billion

    Buckhaven Bouica….. more like Buckfast Bouica

  9. John Mooney says:

    “Good riddence to bad rubbish” as my Great Grandmother was want to say about political charlatans in her day and Ruth the Mooth is a perfect example of my grandmothers saying,Davidson is nothing more than a hypocritical moral coward without any policies apart from her pathetic “No” mantra and she should never be allowed to conveniently forget about her callous and disgusting support of the infamous “Rape Clause” she really is Scotlands modern day “Toom Tabard”.

  10. Jo says:

    What made me laugh was that just minutes after Davidson openly stated there were political factors in her decision, Adam Tomkins insisted her reasons were all family based! He was contradicting Davidson herself!

    The other thing is that she was asked about Johnson shutting parliament down and dodged the question. And those sharp Scottish journalists just sat there and let her away with it. All fawning all over her.

    1. Wullie says:

      A hot tip for Downing Street & her never as much as ran a wulk-stall.

  11. Indyman says:

    That photo of her, truly a picture saying more than 1000 words.

    1. Tommy Mackay says:

      Yeah. I did it.

  12. Jack collatin says:

    With your permission, this was my take earlier on over on WGD>
    -“If someone on zero hours contract gave up their job to spend more time with their kids, especially the third or fourth child whom caring Supermom Davidson refuses to financially support, their personal adviser at the Job Centre would stop their benefits for six weeks or more.
    Ruth would have other folks’ children starve, by UCS edict.

    Ruth Davidson is still trousering £1200 a week plus expenses as a ‘backbencher’, where she and her mates Cole Hamilton and Jenny Mara can idle the hours away helping each other complete the Herald Britland Xword.

    The incredible fake emotion charged Resignation Speech in front of the obliging Dead Tree Scrolls and TV crews was a disgusting insult to Scotland and its citizens.

    This woman represents a Government which has brought us food banks, the Rape Clause, the Bedroom Tax, £32 billion in cuts to the Welfare State, and society destroying policies in England, which she would readily visit on Scotland, if we had been mug enough to let her, which have brought about the collapse of the NHS, (There are 100,000 NHS vacancies Down there) Law and Order (20,000 police sacked, to the extent that they are suggesting sending 300 Scots Officers to NI to patrol the Border and provide target practice for the psychos Over There), sacked 500,000 public servants (Yes, you too, Poser Cole Hamilton) sees teachers feeding pupils, and, according to a UN Report, sent 120,000 UK citizens (and counting) to premature deaths through austerity cuts (Fucking ‘austerity’ = Final Solution?) since 2010.

    There are reports of suicides because of benefits sanctions.
    And the media give this awful little woman a platform for a tear filled Mother Courage speech?

    What a corrupt little Scotia Establishment network runs through our country (that’s Scotland, Willie Rennie) like a cancer slowly but surely killing society.

    I wonder how many parents out there get two weeks off at Christmas, and Easter, and 10 weeks in the summer plus two half term weeks in February and October, on full pay, and would moan about the pressure of work?

    I am beyond reason now.”
    So the poor soul’s household will have to struggle along on £120,000 a year, 16 weeks’ paid holiday, plus expenses plus two index linked final salary pensions. (which Ruth’s Party has shut down for the rest of the plebs)
    What an insult to Just about Managing mothers and Fathers everywhere.

    1. Alistair Taylor says:

      Well said, Jack Collatin.

      Still, we’ve seen the end of Fluffy Mundell and Truthless in a short space of time, and support for independence is on the up and up.
      I’m feeling optimistic.
      See you for a pint in the foreseeable future.
      Keep writing, old fella.
      We appreciate it.

    2. Jo says:

      “Ruth Davidson is still trousering £1200 a week plus expenses as a ‘backbencher’, where she and her mates Cole Hamilton and Jenny Mara can idle the hours away helping each other complete the Herald Britland Xword.”

      I’m a bit confused by that Jack. There are MSPs from the SNP on the backbenches too. And from the Greens. Are you actually saying they’re all overpaid and idle too?

  13. Jack collatin says:

    What I said over on WGD .

  14. John McLeod says:

    It always seemed to me that Ruth Davidson was a prime example of one of the central failings in modern life: narrow time-scales. Usually, what Ruth said – for example in a speech or TV interview – was coherent and persuasive as a self-contained statement at that specific point in time. However, the credibiltiy of her utterances fell apart when compared with earlier statements – in other words, when a wider time-frame was applied. It has also become clear that her statements rarely took account of future possibilities – she lacked the capacity to be far-sighted. She is, of course, not the only contemporary politician or commentator who operates in this way. I believe that a failure to take account of long-term processes and extended time horizons is a major problem in our society. It lies at the heart of the climate crisis and mass extinction. Most of us decide to drive cars and use plastic packaging on the basis of immediate need. We have lost the cultural narrarives and rituals that might allow us to collectively imagine the long-term implications of these actions.

  15. John Watson says:

    Farewell then Ruth D. Not so much a politician as a media sensation. An Anne Widdecombe for our time if you like. As with the original I suspect she’ll be back.

  16. Bob says:

    Although I’m in sympathy with many of the things that Bella is in sympathy with, I am sad at the loss of Ruth Davidson. I think you misunderstand how individuals involved in politics, and particularly in leadership, learn and change. The most creative people learn and change most. Whatever you think about her approach to politics, she was talented and she wanted to serve and stay in Scotland. Contrast with the current defence secretary, Ben Wallace, first elected as a Tory MSP in 1999, who used such talent as he had to acquire an English seat, and is now lifted by the Brexit revolution to the UK cabinet (though who actually knows he’s a Scot?).

    There are two important reasons that the presence of Ruth Davidson, and people like her, in the Scottish Parliament, is a good thing:

    First, it enhances the seriousness with which the Scottish Parliament is taken by the wide range of people who are not committed nationalists and/or Scottish politics obsessives: Ruth Davidson, whatever you or your other commenters say, is a talented politician. The evidence is that people who aren’t Scottish political obsessives know who she is, which is not a minor achievement, given the Brit-focus of the media both in Scotland and the UK. Her presence in the Scottish Parliament – and evident commitment to it – invested it with seriousness as an institution for those Scots (there are a large number) for whom proper politics is UK politics and by whom the Scottish Parliament is regarded as (at best) as secondary to the UK Parliament, to which the second rank of party candidates are sent. Remember that Labour and Tory members were often dismissed as the second-raters in the first and second sessions of the Scottish Parliament. That could not be said about Ruth Davidson.

    Second, involvement in the Scottish Parliament, and a desire to win power and become the government must necessarily change the unionist parties in Scotland. It will wear away the entrenched no-more/no-further unionism. That process had been happening before 2014. Witness Murdo’s proposal for a separate Scottish Tory Party, and Brian Montieth’s proposal for wide-ranging Scottish autonomy. The 2014 referendum set back that process, because it sent unionists back into their “never, never, never” trench.

    However, Ruth Davidson’s response to nationalist criticisms of UK policy on social security (“well, you have the power to fix it, so fix it yourselves”) inevitably drew her into a debate on nationalist territory – whether the powers of the Scottish Parliament were adequate. She could after all have given the knuckle-dragging response Labour was in the habit of giving when in power in the first and second sessions – “that’s a reserved matter, so it’s not for us to deal with”. While you might abuse her as “Rape-clause Ruth”, it was her evident discomfort with the UK government’s policy that led her to make a more creative response. You might say that her response was just an excuse, but it was also a call to make Scotland different from the UK, or at least evoking that potential. That must be a good thing in the context of the present government’s don’t-scare-the-horses approach.

    Now, you might disagree with Ruth Davidson, and call her an opportunist (though what talented politician isn’t an opportunist?) She is a Tory. There are still plenty of them. You could hardly expect her to see the nationalist light in some kind of Damascene conversion. Every little step towards the political focus being on Scotland, and every divergence of Scotland from the UK, is a little victory for the Scottish cause.

    If you doubt me on this, compare with Richard Leonard.

  17. Jim Sansbury says:

    Davidson has more faces than the toon clock.

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