RUTH Davidson has been elected as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
Ms Davidson, 32, beat Murdo Fraser, who planned to rename the party north of the border, into second place in the race to succeed Annabel Goldie.
The other candidates, Jackson Carlaw and Margaret Mitchell, were knocked out earlier in the count.
A former BBC journalist, Ms Davidson was only elected to Holyrood in May as a list MSP for Glasgow.
She gained experience of the party by working as head of Miss Goldie’s private office and stood unsuccessfully for the Westminster constituency of Glasgow North East at the 2009 by-election and 2010 general election.
In her victory speech, Ms Davidson insisted that the Scottish Conservaties were “alive and kicking”.
She said: “Annabel has been a fantastic leader of the MSP group and we all owe her a great debt for her service and for her hard work over a number of years.
“But this is the first time that our members have been asked to elect a leader for the whole party in Scotland and I’ve met our members from Selkirk to Shetland and all points in between.
“They’ve been engaged, they’ve been enthusiastic, they’ve been welcoming and they’re excited about our bright future too.
“A political party is not a leader, a political party is its membership and I want to bring our members at all levels much closer together in our party going forward and to take our party forward in unity.”
Following this afternoon’s result, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I am delighted to congratulate Ruth on winning this leadership election and look forward to working with her to strengthen the Union and build a better future for Scotland.”
More than 8,000 members of the Scottish Conservative party have spent the last few weeks voting by post.
Miss Goldie, who was elected leader in 2005, decided to step down in the wake of the SNP’s landslide election win in May.
Ms Davidson set herself in opposition to Mr Fraser’s plans to disband the Scottish Conservatives during the leadership campaign.
Writing in The Scotsman, she argued that his radical proposal would be disastrous.
“Travelling around Scotland talking and listening to grassroots members has confirmed my belief that to disband is a road to disaster,” she wrote.
“There is no silver bullet. We cannot change our name or divorce from the UK Conservative family and suddenly expect people to like us.
“Instead we need meaningful and lasting change – generational change – that allows us to present a new face and a new voice.”
• Full analysis of the result in The Scotsman tomorrow