No sooner has she increased the number of Conservatives in Holyrood to unprecedented levels, Ruth Davidson is being touted for Westminster.
Yesterday’s Telegraph contained the following article from Asa Bennett. The article celebrates the Conservatives revival and the role that Davidson played in that tremendous success. It’s a well written, straight-forward analysis of what went right for the Tories at the recent election and highlights many of the reasons for Davidson’s appeal.
However, the articles ends with the following musing: “If Ms Davidson’s Westminster fans managed to persuade her to venture south of the border, she could be quite the national asset.”
It’s this final sentence that should be the worry for Scottish Conservatives and, indeed, anyone who cares about a strong Scottish Parliament.
Firstly, the idea that Holyrood is a stepping stone for Westminster is one that should be banished from the mind of any MSP. Since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999 Labour have seen many a ‘big beast’ shun Holyrood wrongly viewing viewing it as a parochial backwater. Such an approach has seen Scottish Labour shorn of intellectual weight which, had it been around, could’ve helped prevent their current predicament.
Secondly, the Conservatives have just recorded their best result at Holyrood. This should be a time of collective ambition for the party and not the individual. Why, instead of asking if Davidson could lead the party nationwide, not ask if she could lead the party into government in Scotland? It might look someway off just now but politics in Scotland is nothing if it’s not cyclical. The Tories, Labour and now the SNP have all had periods of dominance since the 1950s – why couldn’t the Tories next spell be just round the corner?
Finally, politics is best enjoyed when it is driven by it’s brightest talents. With every passing year the Scottish Parliament grows in confidence and power. If Davidson were to leave it would be a great shame for the standard of discourse in Holyrood particularly when there is no immediately obvious candidate to pick up the baton. Should we encourage the more effective operators at Westminster to look to Brussels for their next career move?
Ruth Davidson has and – I’m sure – will continue to show herself to be a capable and largely popular politician in Scotland. Asa Bennett’s article, though pretty accurate in terms of analysis, comes to what we hope is a false conclusion – that Westminster is the pinnacle of a politicians career.