Principled politicans are in public demand

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson with her partner Jen Wilson, who she intends to marry - but would not be allowed to do so in Northern Ireland. Picture: Neil Hanna
Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson with her partner Jen Wilson, who she intends to marry - but would not be allowed to do so in Northern Ireland. Picture: Neil Hanna
Share this article
5
Have your say

Tomorrow, protestors will take to the streets of 
Belfast, calling for gay marriage to be introduced in Northern Ireland. The rally has new significance now that the DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest political party, are the kingmakers at Westminster but are at odds with attitudes to gay marriage in the rest of the UK.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, took issue with this position the moment that the DUP was mooted to be a partner for the Conservatives as a means of keeping Theresa May in power, and this week she has again highlighted her unhappiness at the DUP’s policy. She says she has lobbied DUP leader Arlene Foster, and urged the Prime Minister to press for marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

These are difficult times for Mrs May, clinging on to a slender majority at Westminster by means of a confidence and supply arrangement. This week, her government has needed to be quick on its feet to avoid humiliating defeat in the Commons, and this is just the start of what will be a long five years, if indeed her administration can hold it together for as long as that. Many will doubt if that is possible.

In those circumstances, Mrs May could do without agitation from one of her senior representatives, rocking the boat in what are already troubled waters. Ms Davidson knows this, but it is to her credit that she is not prepared to be silenced for the sake of political power. She has remained true to her convictions, and as she has said before, LGBTI rights are more important to her than party. If anyone thought she was kidding, think again.

We have seen a similar trait in Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has stood by his beliefs even when pilloried, and earned new respect from the electorate for doing so.

In contrast, do we really know what Theresa May stands for?

Much has been said this year about the importance of “authenticity” in politics, and while this has often sounded like no more than a buzzword, there is increasing evidence that the public is drawn to reliable politicians who can be trusted and are respected.

Whether or not Ruth Davidson is able to exert enough influence to make a difference is open to question. But her stand is to be applauded, and might just attract unforeseen support within her own party. That would be just reward for a brave display of political leadership that Mrs May finds elusive.