Scott Macnab: Conservative leader bucks just about every party stereotype

The long-awaited Conservative revival in Scotland is largely down to the emergence of a young leader who has broken just about every stereotype associated with the party.

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Jane Barlow

Ruth Davidson is a 37-year-old ex-journalist who has transformed the fortunes a party north of the Border which was for so long tarnished with the “toxic” label. As a gay, kickboxing enthusiast, she has proven popular with voters and often featured on the party’s election leaflets and literature at the expense of the Conservative party logo.

It resulted in many Scots who never voted Tory before switching to the party, as she acknowledged on Friday.

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“I know very well that many thousands of people who backed me and my team last night are not dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives.

“They simply wanted somebody - anybody - to do a job for them in holding the SNP to account.”

Her success in the election met with widespread praise from senior UK Tories including the Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

Ms Davidson was only elected as an MSP five years ago and won the leadership election almost by default as a newly elected rookie MSP when Annabel Goldie stepped down after the last election.

But the favourite Murdo Fraser decided to campaign on a platform of effectively scrapping the Scottish Conservative party in Scotland and creating a new party to overcome the “toxic” reputation.

It resulted in Ms Davidson sweeping up the support of the traditional wing of the party and taking the top job. She initially struggled with some awkward performances against Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions.

But the young leader came into her own during the independence referendum when she proved a strong voice for the pro-union campaign.