Ruth’s got her own magic cir­cle in Holy­rood.. but they could make her ca­reer van­ish

Party in­sid­ers crit­i­cise Tory dar­ling

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Opinion - Mark Aitken Po­lit­i­cal Editor Ross, top, and Davies

She has become the dar­ling of the Tories at West­min­ster.

Tipped by some as the woman to re­place Theresa May as Prime Min­is­ter.

But Ruth David­son’s lack of lead­er­ship in deal­ing with the shame­ful con­duct of Tory politicians at home could be the un­mak­ing of her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, say fig­ures within her own party.

They point to her fail­ure to con­demn in­flam­ma­tory com­ments about gyp­sies by new MP Dou­glas Ross as a sign of weak­ness in her lead­er­ship.

The read­mis­sion of two coun­cil­lors, sus­pended over the post­ing of of­fen­sive tweets, has also rung alarm bells in the party.

Stirling coun­cil­lor Robert Davies posted racist tweets com­par­ing black peo­ple to can­ni­bals, while col­league Alas­tair Ma­jury made deroga­tory re­marks about Catholics and likened the SNP to Nazis. Both have now un­der­gone diver­sity train­ing by anti-sec­tar­ian char­ity Nil By Mouth.

And in the past week, David­son has been ac­cused of hypocrisy af­ter tak­ing £ 3000 – an as­ton­ish­ing £1 a word – to write an essay point­ing out the fail­ures of cap­i­tal­ism.

A se­nior ac­tivist, who is a mem­ber of an in­flu­en­tial Con­ser­va­tive think tank, said: “It’s a case of if you’re part of her gang, you’ve al­most got a free pass, and if you’re not part of her gang, then the sharp el­bows come into play.

“Look at the 13 Tory MPs who won seats in the gen­eral elec­tion. There was no can­di­date se­lec­tion.

“It was a ring-round in se­cret. Peo­ple of a sim­i­lar opin­ion to Ruth seem to get winnable seats.”

David­son, MSP for Ed­in­burgh Cen­tral, last week said she would cam­paign to re­main in the Euro­pean Union if an­other ref­er­en­dum were to be held.

The se­nior ac­tivist said: “She is vis­cer­ally against Brexit, which, con­sid­er­ing we are now go­ing down that route, is wor­ry­ing.”

He added: “In terms of pol­icy mak­ing, I don’t know what is go­ing on. I don’t know where the poli­cies are com­ing from. There are oc­ca­sional an­nounce­ments like there is go­ing to be a na­tional hous­ing agency. Re­ally? I don’t know when that was dis­cussed. It just ap­peared out of the blue.

“That is not a good sign. It is a sign of some­one be­ing sur­rounded by a small group of peo­ple – and that has tripped up many prime min­is­ters and party lead­ers over the years.

“If any­thing, we want to get the party away from that trend of hav­ing a magic cir­cle.” In May, David­son led the Scot­tish Tories to their best elec­tion since 1983, gain­ing 12 MPs. Her elec­toral suc­cess has led many Tories to see her as a fu­ture prime min­is­ter.

Last week lead­ing Tory donor Lord Har­ris of Peck­ham said Theresa May was “hope­less” while David­son was “top class”. He sug­gested that David­son, 38, could become PM within four years.

How­ever, for­mer Tory MSP and Leave.EU spokesman Brian Mon­teith said David­son’s stance on Brexit would put her at odds with many of the party’s MPs.

He said: “Ruth is clearly very able and greatly ad­mired, but the next Con­ser­va­tive leader is un­doubt­edly go­ing to be a politi­cian who sup­ported leav­ing the EU, not one who voted for Re­main and is still say­ing they would vote Re­main.”

Mon­teith added: “Ruth has gone a long way to once again mak­ing vot­ing Tory a nor­mal, ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence, but there is still a great deal of work to be done. I think a tar­get of be­com­ing First Min­is­ter makes much more sense than peo­ple talk­ing her into head­ing for West­min­ster.”

But one for­mer ri­val doesn’t even be­lieve that David­son will top­ple Ni­cola Stur­geon.

In the 2011 Holy­rood elec­tion, busi­ness­man Malcolm Ma­caskill was the Scot­tish Tories’ first choice on the Glas­gow re­gional list, but was con­tro­ver­sially ousted to make way for David­son.

On Wed­nes­day, he pre­dicted the Tories could lose up to 11 seats at the next elec­tion.

He said: “The in­de­pen­dence threat has been cen­tral to their elec­toral suc­cess. The best of the bunch will sur­vive and there are some ex­cel­lent MSPs, par­tic­u­larly among the new in­take.

“Ruth David­son will be un­able to re­sist a nice safe seat at West­min­ster with a top min­is­te­rial role and Murdo Fraser will fi­nally become the leader in Scot­land.”

UN­DER FIRE Ruth David­son faces rain of crit­i­cism LEAD­ING LADIES Theresa May and Ruth David­son

TROU­BLE

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