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Mandy Rhodes: Ruth Davidson’s new post is a sad indictment of the system she adores

© Jane Barlow/PA WireFormer Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson
Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

The former leader of the Scottish Conservatives is described on her Twitter feed as someone who doesn’t “write the headline” but Ruth “I used to be a journalist” Davidson is certainly hitting them. And for all the wrong reasons.

In the eight short years that she’s been an MSP, Davidson has torn through Scottish politics like a whirlwind wrapped in a Union Jack.

Elected leader just months after becoming an MSP in 2011, she led her party through frenetic times. She has undeniably upped the party profile and managed to increase their MPs from one to 13, doubled the number of seats in the Scottish Parliament, and put her party ahead of Labour as the main opposition.

To an extent, she has managed to divorce herself from some of the hard-line policies of her UK counterparts without saying how she would do things differently.

And in the campaign to promote an image of herself that is entirely based on the superficial, Davidson has proved herself a success at PR. Maybe that is why she is now being paid the equivalent of half a million pounds a year to play that dark art while still sitting as an MSP. But I doubt it.

Whichever way you view it, Davidson’s relatively shortlived foray into the world of politics has been a phenomenal career move, propelling her from the ranks of a BBC radio journalist with a redundancy cheque in one hand and a Conservative Party membership application in the other, to being able to command an eye-watering salary as a PR guru.

But news last week that Davidson had joined City PR firm Tulchan Communications to advise some of the biggest players in corporate Britain while remaining as an MSP has been met with wholesale condemnation.

The industry body, the Public Relations and Communications Association, has blasted her appointment as “wholly unethical” and Neil Findlay MSP, whose private member’s bill on parliamentarians having second jobs is weaving its way through the legislative process, has lodged a motion calling for Davidson to stand down from the Scottish Parliament’s corporate body and to consider her position as an MSP.

Davidson has feebly insisted she will be “helping firms to do the right thing”. She has said that capitalism has some problems and that she intends to be part of the solution. It seems the first step in that process is by lining her own pockets with a pro-rata salary of £500,000 a year. Kerching!

Announcing her new role, Davidson said capitalism has been “the most powerful force in history for lifting people out of poverty” and that “life is now more equal than at any time since she was born”.

Is she for real? Her party’s record on introducing austerity policies was described by a UN inquiry as amounting to “systematic violations” of the rights of the disabled. Its so-called welfare reforms are so bad that Ken Loach made two films about them. All this on top of the economic and social damage still to be wreaked by Brexit.

This is the divided Britain that Davidson helped define. This is her record. Davidson says capitalism needs a reboot but, in her greed, she has stuck the boot into politics and her constituents and hit bonanza time.