PM’s sum­mons to off-mes­sage Ruth

The Mail on Sunday - - The Great Election Flasco -

SCOT­TISH Tory leader Ruth David­son was one of the last se­nior Con­ser­va­tives to learn Theresa May was go­ing to call an early Elec­tion. The re­sult in Scot­land was crit­i­cal for May: with­out the suc­cess of the Scot­tish Tories, she would have found it far harder to cling on to power. But some Tories in Lon­don saw David­son, left, as a po­ten­tial ri­val to May – and she clashed with Fiona Hill. David­son was fight­ing an en­tirely sep­a­rate cam­paign to the strat­egy di­rected from CCHQ in Lon­don. She was tak­ing aim at SNP leader Nicola Stur­geon, rather than de­ploy­ing the pres­i­den­tial Theresa May mes­sage de­vised by Lyn­ton Crosby and Mark Tex­tor.

On May 8, the Scot­tish Tory leader made head­lines with a speech invit­ing vot­ers to ‘cut the SNP down to size’.

A Scot­tish Tory says: ‘It hadn’t been cleared by CCHQ cam­paign chiefs. We got a call say­ing Ruth needed to come down to Lon­don. Fiona wanted a word.’ CCHQ wanted David­son to stick to the script about May’s ‘strong and sta­ble lead­er­ship’ and to put her pic­ture on all leaflets.

When David­son ar­rived at Tory HQ in Lon­don on May 12, Hill re­port­edly did not show up – it was left to Crosby and Tex­tor to talk to her.

Once they had seen David­son’s polling, they ac­cepted the mes­sages they were us­ing in Eng­land would not work in Scot­land.

‘I un­der­stand,’ Crosby told her. ‘Crack on.’

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