The Conservatives did something remarkable last week. They chose as their leader in Scotland a young lesbian who has held elected office for barely six months. This was a brave choice in a nation whose social views are nowhere near as liberal as its Left-wing politics would suggest, let alone for a party still identified in the popular imagination as the backward-thinking home of pearls and perms.
Ruth Davidson is 32, a kickboxer and a former member of the TA. She was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May almost by chance. Now this articulate, steely, former journalist finds herself responsible for David Cameron’s remotest outpost, charged with leading her reduced band of followers back into some kind of significance after a generation of irrelevance.
Her success should herald an exciting time for politics in Scotland. Everything about Ms Davidson proclaims a challenge to the established order and the old way of doing things. With Labour still leaderless following the elections that gave Alex Salmond and the SNP the first overall majority since the devolved parliament was created in 1999, surely now is the chance for the Tories to get back into the Scottish conversation?
The plain truth, though, is that her best efforts will not make a blind bit of difference in a debate that has long since moved on from whether the Conservatives can be heard in a country that has despised them since the days of Margaret Thatcher. Scotland is on course for a break with the Union that will lead if not to outright independence, then to a much more informal relationship akin to Catalonia’s place in Spain. more