Conference season came spluttering to an undignified end this month, and with Prime Minister May’s coughs still echoing around the Manchester Central Exhibition centre, the competition to be next Conservative leader is already underway. Leaked messages from a whatsapp group of Tory MPs showed majority support for May despite rumours that up to 30 plotters, led by the infamous Grant Shapps, were hoping to oust the PM.
Among the contenders for leader is Ruth Davidson, who seems such a stand-up character that you could almost forget she’s a Conservative, let alone the leader of the party in Scotland. She’s got a consistent track record of not being racist or sexist in interviews, unlike some of her colleagues, and even publicly called out Theresa May for striking a deal with the notoriously homophobic DUP to get back into government. Davidson herself is in a same-sex relationship and, as well as being a woman, Scottish, and under forty, does not necessarily fit the traditional Conservative image. But that is undoubtedly to her advantage.
If the Conservative party wants to stand any chance of avoiding electoral defeat in the next General Election, they need a leader who can oversee a serious rebrand. Davidson’s traditional roots – her military service and membership of the Church of Scotland – coupled with her modernising stance on infrastructure and education for example, suggest she could be the woman for the job.
Above all else, she is what May is not; relatable, human and authentic. It’s refreshing to see a prominent Conservative woman in leadership break out of the Thatcher mould, and retain authority. The odds of Davidson-led Conservative party in the near future are not high, but it is also not unlikely that she will make a bid for the leadership at some point in her career. She may hold off for the time being and let Brexit be May’s legacy, not her own.
Photograph: The Scottish Parliament via Flickr