Ruth Davidson: The Tory Party needs to understand the changing landscape of Scottish politics

14 February 2020, 10:11

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has spoken out on the leadership campaign
Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has spoken out on the leadership campaign. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

As the Scottish Tories prepare to reveal their next leader this morning - Ruth Davidson says the party needs to understand the changing landscape of politics north of the border.

Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne are both in the running to replace Ms Davidson, who quit the top job last year.

Speaking exclusively to LBC she said the new leader needs to look towards the next five years in politics, "not just be able to discuss what's happened in the five years up to now."

When asked if she had a favourite among the candidates Ms Davidson said she had "stayed scrupulously neutral" throughout the campaign, but she told LBC Jackson Carlo had been a Member of the Scottish Parliament for a long time and "covered a number of briefs, including transport and health."

While the other candidate Michelle Ballantyne is one of the newest MSPs. Ms Davidson said a lot of her experience is from "outside the parliament." The candidate was previously a nurse and a businesswoman and running a charity as well and worked in addiction services.

The "two very, very different people with different approaches" show the "strength and depth that we've got within our party," Ms Davidson said.

The former Conservative leader in Scotland told LBC the challenges of leading a political party were different from managing a company.

She said the role was about "taking people who choose to be part of it is about the volunteer."

"So you really have to bring people along and show them where it is you're wanting to go. And also, the tests come around pretty quickly. "

She warned that a future leader would have to have "resilience, that energy, that vision of where you want to take the party, and you've got to have the people skills to take people with you."

The two leadership candidates
The two leadership candidates. Picture: PA

Branding the Scottish parliamentary elections next years as a "fantastic opportunity for the Scottish Conservatives," Ms Davidson said the party "more than doubled our number of seats at the last election and I think that there's a great platform there. "

When asked what they next leader of her party would need to know, Ms Davidson said: "I think what's important is that the new leader really understands how Scottish politics has changed in the last few years. So when I was first elected in 2011, the situation on the ground we hadn't independence referendum, we hadn't had a Brexit referendum."

She added: "Politics was very different. So the new leader who comes in needs to understand what's going to happen in the next five years in politics, not just be able to discuss what's happened in the five years leading up to now," she said the new leader would need to be "brave enough to make changes."

She warned that "no party that stays where it is, will ever flourish."

"It's about making sure that they can change things that they need to change to adapt to the situation around them."

She told LBC she didn't want the changes she had made kept just because she was the one who made them, "I'm not precious about the changes that I made, I don't want to see everything that I did sort of preserved in amber forever.

Praising Boris Johnson for staying neutral during the leadership campaign, Ms Davidsons said she thought the PM would "work very well with whoever the Scottish leader is. You know, we are a key part of the UK party and he appreciates that."

Ms Davidson stepped down as Scottish Conservative leader in August last year, citing the "conflict" she felt over Brexit - having campaigned for Remain in 2016 - as well as becoming a mother as the reasons for leaving the job.