Could This Woman Be The Next Prime Minister?

Everything you need to know about Ruth Davidson...


by Vicky Spratt |

Ruth Davidson is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Since last year’s EU referendum debates, where she appeared on behalf of, there has been a national buzz around her.

Davidson is not your typical Tory. She is openly gay, has working-class roots and was in the Territorial Army. She is about as far from the pudgy metropolitan conservatism of David Cameron as you can possibly get, equally she is from a very different school of politics to the reserved, unemotional and ever-stiff-upper-lipped governance Theresa May exhibits.

There is currently no official leadership competition within the Conservative Party but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about who might succeed Theresa May if she were to go which, let’s face it, is far from out of the question.

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Indeed, over the weekend The Independent’s Chief Political Commentator, John Rentoul, stuck his speculation in the ring, writing an article entitled ‘I’m convinced Ruth Davidson could be the next Prime Minister, even if the bookies favour Boris Johnson’, which has further sparked debate about whether she could become the party’s next leader.

With Davidson set to appear in a forthcoming celebrity edition of Bake Off, following in the footsteps of former Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls and political wives like Samantha Cameron and Sarah Brown, it seems like a good time to take a look at the self-described ‘drippingly wet, pro-immigrant lesbian Scot’ and ask what sort of leader she would be….

First up, the basics, who is Ruth Davidson?

Ruth is a Member of the Scottish Parliament, representing the constituency of Edinburgh Central. She has been the party’s leader since 2011. She was born on 10 November 1978, making her 38 (at the time of writing) and a Scorpio.

Being born into a working-class family is something Davidson has spoken about at length, distancing herself from the typical Tory stereotype of being publically educated and brought up with a silver spoon. She went on to study at the University of Edinburgh and has a degree in English Literature.

Last year she told The Telegraph ‘my parents were raised in Glasgow council estates. I’ve opened our party up and demonstrated it doesn’t matter where you come from or which school you went to…. I don’t like prima donnas. I really want grafters in our party.’

How can you describe Ruth Davidson’s politics?

Despite the fact that the Daily Mail has tried to align her with Margaret Thatcher (a fate which has also befallen Theresa May on the pages of the same paper) by asking whether ‘Ruth Davidson is Maggie for the 21st Century?’, Davidson herself has been very clear that she and Thatcher have no more in common than the facts of being a) a woman and b) a conservative. In the same Telegraph interview, she was very clear that she sees herself as ‘a ‘John Major Conservative’. Major was famously from a working-class background and did not go to university. In 1992 the Conservative Party made a virtue of this in their election campaign running a poster with a picture of Major’s face accompanied by the slogan: ‘what does the Conservative Party offer a working-class kid from Brixton? They made him Prime Minister’.

Davidson has never shied away from not toeing the line with her counterparts in Westminster. She was very vocal in her objections to George Osborne when he wanted to cut tax credits for working families and she has remained unashamedly pro-EU. She has also consistently opposed Scottish Independence, unlike Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Ruth Davidson’s Sexuality

Like former Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, Davidson is openly gay. Earlier this year, after it was announced that the Conservatives in Westminster had done a deal with the Northern Irish DUP after failing to win a majority in the snap election, Davidson stormed out of an interview with Channel 4 News. She was asked about the homophobic views of some DUP representatives and in response she simply said ‘as the Conservative Party we are the part of equal marriage, we introduced it to the House of Commons and we would use our influence to try and advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland’ before walking off camera away from the interviewer.

Davidson is always quick to call out homophobia on and offline. Last year, in an interview with BBC Newsnight, she said: ‘I do call out and will challenge or retweet or draw attention to it when people make homophobic remarks about me, because I’ve got a lot of young followers on Twitter and I think they have to see that it is OK to say, ‘that’s not acceptable language. I do not have to accept this. It’s important in their lives, even if it doesn’t bother a tough old bird like me.’

So, does Ruth Davidson even want to be the leader of the Conservative Party and how likely is it that she will find herself in that position?

Well, despite the best efforts of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson to run for leader, there is not currently an opening at the top of the Conservative Party. That said, it is possible that there will be another election before 2021 and that Theresa May will find herself in the position of having to stand down as a result of our negotiations with the EU.

If there is a leadership contest, Davidson could well run. Earlier this month she refused to rule the possibility out. Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Programme whether a Scot could lead the Conservative Party, she said: ‘Absolutely, without a doubt. Michael Gove even tried’ but then she quickly added ‘I’ve got a job at the moment. I’m not looking past 2021. I’m trying to build a party that was third, in some cases fourth when I became leader to build it up to be a credible government of Scotland. I know what my job is and this is my job right now. I’m looking to 2021 and I’m not looking past it because there’s quite a few in the in-tray right now.’

As Davidson herself put it at a Conservative Party Conference event would the Tory party ever be happy with ‘a drippingly wet, pro-immigrant lesbian Scot’ as their leader? We might one day find out.

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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