Scottish Conservative and Unionist leader, Ruth Davidson, took her party from one seat to thirteen in the election. Can she make it to the very top?
In 2016, Davidson leap-frogged Labour’s Kezia Dugdale to become the official Leader of the Opposition in Scotland’s parliament. One year later her party leap-frogged Labour again and won thirteen seats in the House of Commons.
Her primary goal right now is to be first minister of Scotland, an aspiration which could soon well be reached.
But with her recent success and popularity amongst Conservative members – according to a Conservative Home members' poll from May where she was found to be more popular than any cabinet member at the time – could she become leader of the UK Conservative party? And how?
The path to power
The main obstacle in her way to leading the party is that she is not an MP. While her party went from one to thirteen in the recent election, Davidson herself was not one of the new cohort of UK representatives. In order to lead the Conservative party and become prime minister she would have to enter the House of Commons.
Nonetheless, that has not stopped the bookies giving good odds for her becoming the next Conservative leader. Ladbrokes has her at 16/1, level with current MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove, and ahead of Damian Green and Sajid Javid – both on 20/1.
It’s not surprising that despite not being an MP, her odds are so good. The 2017 election was not good for the Conservative party, but in amongst the failure, Davidson stood out as a beacon of success. Scotland, a land almost totally devoid of Conservative representation for twenty years, came back into play for the party. Add to that, her charisma, her ability to challenge and debate Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood, and her high approval ratings amongst Conservative members, Davidson is certainly one to watch for the future.
If she became an MP within the coming years I expect that the odds of her getting into Downing Street would be slashed considerably. However, that likely will not come for some time.
Much will depend on the 2021 Scottish election, but a good showing from the Scottish Conservatives could result in Scotland’s first Conservative first minister.
Only after that, depending on how her record in office was, it’s entirely possible to imagine 2017’s Tory success story joining the UK parliament and making her way to Number 10.
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