Ruth Davidson

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Ruth Davidson
Leader of the Scottish Conservatives
Assumed office
4 November 2011
Preceded by Annabel Goldie
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Preceded by Bill Aitken
Personal details
Born (1978-11-10) 10 November 1978 (age 37)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Scottish Conservative Party
Domestic partner Jen Wilson
Occupation Journalist
Religion Church of Scotland

Ruth Elizabeth Davidson (born 10 November 1978) is a Scottish politician, currently leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Glasgow regional list.

After graduating from Edinburgh University, she worked as a BBC journalist and signaller in the Territorial Army. After leaving the BBC in 2009 to study at Glasgow University, Davidson joined the Conservative Party, and was the party's candidate in the Glasgow North East constituency at a 2009 by-election and at the 2010 general election, finishing in respectively 3rd and 4th place, with approximately 5% of the vote.

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Davidson stood for election in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency and on the Glasgow regional list. She finished in 4th place in the former, but was successful in the latter, and following party leader Annabel Goldie's resignation in May 2011, Davidson stood in the subsequent leadership election. She won the contest and was declared party leader on 4 November 2011.[1]


Davidson was born at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion in Edinburgh and was raised in Selkirk and later in Fife. Davidson has lived in Glasgow for most of her adult life. Her family lived in Bridgelands Road, Selkirk and Davidson attended Knowepark Primary School until primary three. Her father, Douglas, who was a mill manager at Laidlaw & Fairgrieve, had played professional football for Partick Thistle F.C. in his younger days and was a midfielder in Selkirk F.C. during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The family left the Borders for Fife when her father took a job in the whisky industry and where she attended Buckhaven High School.[2][3]

She went on to study English literature[4][5] at the University of Edinburgh gaining a Master of Arts (MA) degree.[6]

Early career[edit]

After graduation, she joined the Glenrothes Gazette as a trainee reporter. She later moved to Kingdom FM followed by Real Radio and finally joined BBC Scotland in late 2002 where she worked as a radio journalist, producer, presenter and reporter. She left the BBC in 2009 to study International Development at the University of Glasgow.[3][7]

She served as a Signaller in the Territorial Army for three years (2003–06) before suffering a back injury in a training exercise at Sandhurst.[8] She was also a Sunday school teacher.[3][7]

Political career[edit]

Westminster elections[edit]

In 2009 after having left the BBC to study at Glasgow University, Davidson joined the Conservative Party. She said she was inspired by David Cameron's call, in the wake of the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal, for people who had never been political before to get involved. She was encouraged by the Scottish Conservative Party's Director of Media Ramsay Jones[9] to join the party and stand for the Westminster constituency of Glasgow North East at the 2009 by-election, which was triggered by the resignation of Labour MP and Speaker of the House, Michael Martin. She came in third with 5.2% of the vote, losing to Labour's Willie Bain.

She tried again unsuccessfully in the same seat at the 2010 general election, coming fourth with 5.3% of the vote.[10][11]

Aide to Annabel Goldie[edit]

From early 2010 to March 2011 she worked as the head of the private office of the then Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie.[12] She played a large part in the organisation of campaign media events at the 2010 UK general election.

Scottish Parliament[edit]

For the 2011 Scottish parliament election, Davidson was selected in September 2010[13] to contest the Glasgow Kelvin constituency and was initially placed only second on the Conservatives' Glasgow region list, behind Malcolm Macaskill, a Glasgow businessman and party member for over 30 years. This would have made it very unlikely that Davidson would have been able to be elected to the Scottish Parliament, as the Glasgow regional list typically returns only 1 Conservative member.[14]

However, with only a couple of months to go, newspaper stories appeared in March 2011 that questioned Macaskill's past business history.[14][15] It was revealed that Macaskill failed to fully disclose his business career on his CV to party members ahead of a 2010 internal party selection contest.[16][17] The Party chairman Andrew Fulton then decided that Macaskill was to be deselected, thereby promoting Davidson to the first position in the Glasgow regional list.[14]

Subsequently Davidson, although coming a distant fourth in Glasgow Kelvin, was elected to the Scottish Parliament on the Glasgow region list.[18] After the election, she was appointed by Goldie as the Conservative spokesperson for Culture, Europe and External Relations.[3]

In September 2015, following a year long police investigation into allegations pro-Union campaigners, including Davidson, had breached secrecy provisions of the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 during the Scottish independence referendum detectives reported their findings to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.[19] Police Scotland stated in reference to the report that no evidence of criminality was found and consequently there was no charge to answer.[20]

Leadership of the Scottish Conservative Party[edit]

Following the resignation of Annabel Goldie as Scottish Conservative leader on 9 May 2011, Davidson became a contender in the leadership election.[21] Her rivals later claimed that Davidson received assistance from Party headquarters,[14] though her supporters stated that these claims were part of a smear campaign.[14] She stood against three other candidates – Murdo Fraser, Jackson Carlaw and Margaret Mitchell – with Fraser standing on a platform of disbanding the party and establishing a new Scottish centre-right party. Davidson announced her candidacy on 4 September and vehemently opposed Fraser's proposals to rebrand the party, calling it a "distraction" which would "tie the party in knots".[22]

On 11 September 2011, Davidson sacked her election agent and parliamentary assistant Ross McFarlane after he was filmed trying to burn a European Union flag in a Glasgow street following a University Conservative Association (GUCA), St. Andrews Day dinner in November 2010.[23] On 5 October 2011, the Scottish Conservative media director Ramsay Jones was suspended from his duties during the leadership contest, after it was revealed that he had met Davidson and her campaign team in her flat on Sunday, 18 September.[24][25]

Davidson subsequently won the leadership election and was made the leader of the Scottish Conservatives on 4 November 2011. She gained 2,278 first preference votes out of the 5,676 votes cast, after second preference votes were counted, she won by 2,983 votes to second-placed Murdo Fraser's 2,417.[1] This sparked some discontent within the party, with prominent party supporter Paul McBride resigning the party[26] and party donor John McGlynn criticised her election, saying that she was elected through 'interference'.[27]

Davidson's campaign was endorsed by two MSPs: John Lamont (her campaign manager) and John Scott; the Conservatives' only Scottish MP and Scotland Office Minister David Mundell; party grandees, Sir Albert McQuarrie, former Chairman of the UK Conservative party Marquess of Lothian Michael Ancram, former Scottish Office Minister and Scottish party chairman Lord Sanderson, former Secretary of State for Scotland Lord Forsyth, Leader of the House of Lords Lord Strathclyde; and former MSP and Holyrood deputy presiding officer Murray Tosh. Despite being a List MSP for Glasgow, she failed to gain the endorsement of a single chairperson of any of the five Conservative Constituency Associations in Glasgow[9] and over half the MSP group had supported Murdo Fraser.[28]

Davidson challenged Nicola Sturgeon for First Minister in 2014, even though the SNP's outright majority made Sturgeon's election a formality.[29]

Policies and views[edit]

Justice and devolution[edit]

She supports judges being given the ability to effectively convict perpetrators of 'the most heinous, cruel and vile' crimes with a life sentence, with the intent that they are never released.[30] Davidson also calls for an end to the automatic release of prisoners, and believes that alcohol and drug consumption should not grant more lenient sentencing to people who have committed crimes.[31]

Davidson has stated she wanted the Scottish parliament to be accountable for up to 40% of what it spends. This was a reverse of a previous view she expressed, as she was elected on a platform that there should be a "line drawn in the sand", as she opposed any further devolution. She later said "Conservatives were wrong to oppose the idea of a Scottish Parliament during the campaign for devolution, which was delivered in 1999." [32]

Business and infrastructure[edit]

Davidson has proposed that any start-up company whose rateable value was below £18,000, should be incentivised by being given an initial 2-year ability to avoid paying business rates.[33] She also emphasises the necessity for proper infrastructure in rural areas, particularly with regard to ferry links.[34]

She supports the Scottish computer games industry and opposed the proposal to deny tax breaks to the industry.[35]

Education and childcare[edit]

During her leadership campaign, Davidson stated that pre-school children should be granted more hours in nursery, so as to meet the needs of 'hard-working families'.[36] She supports state-funded Roman Catholic schooling in Scotland, and believes the Church of Scotland should open its own faith schools as well.[37]

Social issues[edit]

Davidson has stated that she supports same-sex marriage, but believes religious institutions should not be forced to carry out the ceremonies should it conflict with their views.[38] She urged Ireland to vote Yes in the 2015 constitutional vote to enable same-sex marriage.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Davidson is a member of the Church of Scotland and counts dog walking, hillwalking and kickboxing as her hobbies.[40][41] She is a lesbian.[42][43] In February 2015 she appeared in a party election broadcast with her partner, Jen Wilson, a 33-year-old woman of Irish background.[44]

On 23 October 2015, Davidson became the first female Scottish politician to appear as a panellist on the BBC One satirical news quiz Have I Got News for You.[45]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Black (4 November 2011). "BBC News – Ruth Davidson elected new Scottish Conservative leader". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "After Brownlee, another Knoweparker lines up to lead the Scottish Tories – Dunfermline and West Fife". Fife Today (Johnston Publishing Ltd). 1 October 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Scottish Parliament profile: Ruth Davidson". 25 August 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Cate Devine (20 December 2010). "There's a misconception that Scottish Tories are anti-gay". Herald Scotland (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Tartan tory: The Ruth Davidson interview". 14 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Ruth Davidson – Parliamentary candidate profile". London: Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "People | MSPs". Scottish Conservatives. 17 January 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Paul Hutcheon; Tom Gordon (9 October 2011). "Tory leadership campaign mired by party split and allegations of bias". Herald Scotland (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "UK | Scotland | Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West | Tories choose by-election hopeful". BBC News. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Election 2010 | Constituency | Glasgow North East". BBC News. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "Lamont welcomes Tory leadership result and hits back at 'twit' claim". The Southern Reporter (Johnston Publishing Ltd). 13 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Two new candidates adopted to contest Holyrood seats". 30 September 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Wounds from Scottish Tory battle will not heal quickly". The Scotsman (Johnston Press). 24 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  15. ^ Cochrane, Alan (25 March 2011). "Scottish Tories in turmoil after top candidate sacked". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Turmoil as Tory candidate dropped over CV – Evening Times | News". Evening Times. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  17. ^ Paul Hutcheon; Tom Gordon (25 March 2011). "Chequered business career costs Tory his Holyrood hope". Herald Scotland (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "Scottish Election: Labour crashes in Scottish heartland". 6 May 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Williams, Martin (15 September 2015). "Police hand prosecutors details about referendum vote claims involving Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson". The Herald. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "No Prosecutions Over Referendum postal vote tally, confirm prosecuters". Daily Record. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  21. ^ Paul Hutcheon; Tom Gordon (3 July 2011). "Gay MSP in running to lead Scots Tories". Herald Scotland (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  22. ^ Carrell, Severin (8 September 2011). "Scottish Tory leadership candidate rejects call for greater economic powers". The Guardian (London). 
  23. ^ Paul Hutcheon (11 September 2011). "Burning the EU flag amid sectarian abuse Meet the election agent of the Tories' moderate face". Herald Scotland (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Scottish Tory chief spin doctor Ramsay Jones suspended". 5 October 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  25. ^ Paul Hutcheon; Tom Gordon (2 October 2011). "Top Tory spin doctor accused of favouritism in leadership campaign – Herald Scotland | News | Home News". Herald Scotland (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  26. ^ Davidson, Lorraine (6 November 2011). "Paul McBride resigns from Tory party". Scotland on Sunday. 
  27. ^ "Tory donor John McGlynn's concern over new leader". BBC News Scotland. 8 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "Supporters". Murdo Perth: Elizabeth Smith. 
  29. ^ "New Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes gender equality pledge". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  30. ^ "Conservatives call for whole-life jail sentences". STV. 24 November 2011. 
  31. ^ "Davidson calls for sentencing changes". Ruth Davidson. 20 September 2011. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Davidson calls for a two-year Rates 'Holiday' for new small businesses". Ruth Davidson. 28 September 2011. 
  34. ^ "Ruth: I will be a champion for the Highlands and Islands". Ruth Davidson. 14 October 2011. 
  35. ^ "Ruth urges Chancellor to support Scotland's Computer Games Industry". Ruth Davidson. 15 October 2011. 
  36. ^ "Davidson: Support for families and investment in Children are top priorities". Ruth Davidson. 27 September 2011. 
  37. ^ Geen, Jessica (20 September 2011). "Lesbian would-be Tory leader Ruth Davidson wants more faith schools". Pink News. 
  38. ^ "MSP Response: Ruth Davidson (Conservative)". Defend Marriage in Scotland. 6 November 2011. 
  39. ^ Lyell, Carrie. "Ruth Davidson urges Ireland to vote Yes to marriage equality". Diva Magazine. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  40. ^ "Current MSPs". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  41. ^ Andy Philip (4 November 2011). "Newcomer Ruth Davidson wins Scottish Tory leadership race". The Independent (London: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  42. ^ Brown, Lucy (4 April 2011). "Scottish parliament aims for equality". Lesbilicious. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  43. ^ Geen, Jessica (14 August 2009). "Tories choose lesbian to fight Glasgow by-election". Pink News. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  44. ^ Johnson, Simon; Cramb, Auslan (18 February 2015). "Scottish Tory leader features gay partner in election broadcast". The Daily Telegraph. 
  45. ^ Brocklehurst, Steven (23 October 2015). "Have they got news for Ruth Davidson?". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 23 October 2015. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Annabel Goldie
Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party