Announcing herself on a grand political stage, Ruth Davidson proved herself to be a formidable politician, leading many to wonder whether she could be a good bet for next Tory leader.
After her impressive showing in Tuesday’s Referendum debate, Ruth Davidson will have introduced herself to the British public. She is already well known in Scotland, having led the Scottish conservatives since 2011: she fought successfully for a No vote in the referendum, and in the recent Scottish elections her party finished ahead of Labour, denying the nationalists a majority in the process.
However, this was her first appearance on the national stage, and she will have impressed many with her eloquence, persuasiveness, and her put-downs of Boris Johnson. Almost immediately, online sportsbooks in the UK responded by lowering her odds to be next Tory Leader. David Cameron has said he will not be leader at the next election, so there could be an opening soon.
Why would Davidson make a good bet for next Tory leader?
It’s not just her performance on the big stage that makes her a good bet for next Tory leader, or at least a good bet to be leader sometime in the future. For a start, the conservative party may look different after the referendum. If Remain wins, then the power of right-win elements, along with prominent Eurosceptics like Boris Johnson, may be diminished. The party may seek to be more inclusive: what could be more effective than electing a female Scottish politician who recently announced that she is a lesbian?
However, she also ticks many traditional conservative boxes. She briefly served in the military, and pointed out in the Great Debate that she was the only politician taking part who had done so. She is Christian, and has taught Sunday School in the past. She has supported David Cameron, while appealing the Scottish voters. If the Tories hope to maintain a strong union with Scotland, electing a Scottish leader could be the perfect strategy.
It may not be easy for Davidson to become the next Tory leader
Though Davidson would be an appealing candidate for next Tory leader in many ways, there are also flaws to her candidacy. More problematically, she isn’t a member of the British Parliament. She could run for a seat at the next election, but there’s a chance the next Tory leader will have been elected by then. Even if she were to be an MP, she doesn’t have the Westminster experience necessary to be an effective leader there.
What’s more, she would have to fight long-time favourite George Osborne. He has been usurped as favourite by Boris, but a Remain vote would surely rule Boris out at least in the short-term. With what could be a decade of experience as chancellor, he would be a formidable rival. Osborne went to Oxford, while Davidson only attended Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Overall, Davidson seems a good bet to be leader of the Conservatives in the future, but at 37 she may have to bide her time. If she were to stand for election in the next parliament, she could accrue experience before rising up the ranks in the years to come. With her charisma and skill-set, it would be a surprise if her current role were to be the limit of her political ambitions. If you do think that Davidson would make a good bet for next Tory leader, bet now: her odds at online sportsbooks are likely to drop even further if Remain wins Thursday’s referendum.