PM’s summons to off-message Ruth
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.’