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Is Ruth Davidson the new Alec Douglas-Home?

August 31st, 2018

Video: Excerpt from a January 2016 episode of Newsnight

We’ve been here before, the best hope for the Tory party winning the next general election is a Scot that isn’t an MP and yet the Tory Party yet somehow engineers the situation for that non MP to become Tory leader & Prime Minister and an MP shortly thereafter.

Today’s Sun newspaper reports

RUTH Davidson has told friends she may move to Westminster to become a Cabinet minister as a stepping stone for a Tory leadership bid.

Under the fledgling plan, she would abandon Scottish politics and take a peerage instead.

The move could happen as soon as late next year when pregnant Ms Davidson returns from maternity leave after giving birth to her first child.

The surprise move would electrify the mounting scramble among senior Tories over who will succeed struggling Theresa May as PM.

The popular Scottish Tories boss has always insisted she will stay north of the border to fight the 2021 Holyrood elections.

But the party’s rising star has been told by senior Tory pals that she needs to prove her mettle in a big national job like running a government ministry to boost her chances of taking the Tory crown.

A friend of Ms Davidson told The Sun: “Ruth told me that she is having a rethink about the next few years.

“It’s dawning on her that she needs to prove she can run something bigger than just the Scottish Tory party to show members she would be good leader of the party and the country.

“You can renounce peerages these days, so that’s how she’d do it as a stop gap before fighting a Westminster seat at the next general election, whenever it comes.”

I can understand why quite a lot of Tories would like to see Ruth Davidson as Theresa May’s successor. After the revival of the Scottish Tories she’s overseen as no one cracks any panda jokes. Without Ms Davidson’s leadership ad performance last June Jeremy Corbyn might well have become Prime Minister.

Ruth Davidson is a very effective media performer and she’d be able to lay a glove or two on Jeremy Corbyn in a way Mrs May has failed to do so. You’d be willing to bet substantial amounts on Ruth Davidson not chickening out of the debates like Mrs May.

My betting position to date has been not to back Ruth Davidson to be Theresa May’s successor because there’s no realistic way for her to become an MP before the time of the next Tory leadership contest which I expect will be before the next general election.

Normally I’m quite dismissive about the practicability and possibility of having a Prime Minister based in the House of Lords but if it was only a short term fix, say less than 12 months before a general election, it could work as it would allow Ruth Davidson to be selected for a Westminster constituency for the next election.

I’d be much confident on betting on Ruth Davidson on being the next Tory leader but one but right now I’m not prepared to stake much on her being Theresa May’s successor. What would be a game changer is Ruth Davidson winning a Westminster by election.

However if she was to join the cabinet soon via a peerage and does well in her role then I’d expect her to be the favourite to succeed Mrs May, it does speak about the paucity of talent in the Parliamentary Conservative Party that the person many see as the Tories best hope is someone who has never been an MP.

Critics would point out Alec Douglas-Home lost a general election within a year of becoming Prime Minister although, many including myself, say he did well to restrict Labour to a majority of just four seats, considering the position he inherited.

TSE