By Tim Montgomerie
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Many congratulations to Ruth Davidson, the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives. I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth – albeit briefly – at the Manchester Party Conference. She was everything I had expected from media reviews – warm, thoughtful and authentically Conservative. Her first task is to unite the party behind her. Although she has won among party members she had little backing from her fellow MSPs. The contest has, at times, been acrimonious and she’ll need to perform some healing.
I had hoped Murdo Fraser would win. A few months ago he was the clear frontrunner and every expectation was that he could have sailed to victory. The reason he didn’t win was that he proposed a radical restructuring of the Scottish Conservative Party. He suggested it needed to be separate from the party headquartered in London and have its own name, manifesto and identity. Party members have rejected that idea rather than, I would suggest, Murdo himself and he deserves credit for wanting to win on terms that he thought could reverse decades of Scottish Tory decline.
Ruth now deserves every Conservative’s support but I hope she’ll also learn from some of Murdo’s arguments. The Scottish Party is in a desperate place. There is only one Conservative MP north of the border and that seat’s blue majority will probably be lost under boundary changes. Ruth will succeed Annabel Goldie who was a very popular personality – second only to Alex Salmond in surveys of opinion. That popularity wasn’t enough. If the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives is to start winning again Ruth Davidson will need to build a punchier “Made in Scotland’ party. A 'Made in Scotland' brand will also be important if we are to stop Alex Salmond's plan to break up the Union. I wish her all the very best in her new post.
PS Ruth Davidson is a lesbian. Further proof if further proof was needed that the Tory grassroots are far different from the way they are caricatured.
After the elimination of Margaret Mitchell and Jackson Carlaw’s votes and following their redistribution the result was as follows:
9.15pm, Video of Ruth Davidson talking to the BBC: "I think I offered the generational change that our party has been looking for"