Mandy Rhodes: Ruth Davidson may be in Vogue but all talk, no action is never a good look

Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Ruth Davidson (Carl Court/Getty Images)

RUTH DAVIDSON is on a roll. Last week, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives was named one of Vogue’s 25 most influential women in Britain.

The accolade came just days after senior Tories at Westminster were touting Davidson as the saviour of their party.

And then there was her big speech on the economy. It was billed as a chance to reset the dial. An opportunity to grasp policy detail and set out plans to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. To make a difference.

This is the divided Britain Davidson has helped redefine and, as someone consistently tipped for the top, she is also integral to Brexit which has shifted the whole axis of how we in Britain relate to each other and the world.

For while she describes herself as a liberal Tory and appears soft on immigration, strong on human rights and a champion of equality, she is complicit with a party that has tolerated racism and Islamophobia within its ranks, is in hock to the DUP and has implemented pugnacious immigration policies that have led to scandals such as Windrush.

Last week’s speech was classic Davidson. It offered little in the way of real economic argument, it was more a series of negative observations about the property market, productivity and population. While many result from the adverse consequences of Conservative policies, Davidson was astute enough to know what would make the headlines.

She is brilliant at feeling the public pulse and claiming an idea as her own. And so it was that the next day, her statements about NHS funding and getting rid of immigration targets splashed.

But she can talk soft on immigration, on Brexit and in support of the NHS but they’re just words and her inaction speaks of something else.

On the “rape clause”, Brexit, racism within her party, a Westminster power grab, abortion in Northern Ireland and the deleterious policies of the DUP, Davidson is an expert in political contortion.

She plays to an audience. And it is testament to her political sleight of hand that she is regarded by a metropolitan commentariat, and its conscious myopia, as being divorced from all of the toxicity of the Tories.

But nothing encapsulates her ability to ignore the reality of her party, more neatly than on immigration and in the case of Denzel Darku.

Darku, a 23-year-old charity worker and student nurse from Ghana who came to Scotland when he was 15 and now lives in Paisley, has been told by the Home Office he must leave.

He has been educated here, been an elected member of the Scottish Youth Parliament and carried the Queen’s baton ahead of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games in 2014. He is, the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, a “credit to Scotland.”

Darku may be exceptional but he should not be an exception to a bad rule. His situation and others like it provide the real test of Davidson’s political commitment.

The fanciful imaginings of the Westminster media bubble only bolsters Davidson’s profile when scrutiny of her actions, not words, is more important than another speculative prediction of her gilded route to Number 10.

Cancel