Enoch Powell’s famous quote that “all political careers end in failure” rings down the years as cliche and truism. It’s harsh but true that Ruth Davidson’s career started in failure too. Despite the warm glow of media adulation the truth is that she has not won any election in Scotland during her 8 years as leader and led the Tories into their worst election (EU 2019, 11.6%).

Now she is, in the words of Tommy Sheppard:

“…a busted flush — Boris Johnson has humiliated her and left her authority non-existent following the sacking of David Mundell.”

“That was despite her bid to keep him in post, which was completely ignored by the new PM. This is a clear sign from Boris Johnson about how little he rates Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories. He is ignoring them just as much as he will ignore the rest of Scotland through the course of his premiership.”

As Alister Jack settles into his new office, and seem to be able to lower the bar set by the outgoing David Mundell, severe issues face the Scottish Conservative Party and its beleaguered leader.

Only a few months ago, Ruth Davidson was being touted not just as a Cabinet member but as a future Prime Minister. Seriously.

Martin Kettle wrote enthusiastically in the Guardian:

“Cameron had a succession plan that isn’t on the cards this time. He had intended, after winning the European referendum, to reshuffle his cabinet for the remainder of his premiership. One of his moves would have been to confer a peerage on the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, and make her defence secretary, sitting in the House of Lords. The aim was to help to position her to be Cameron’s chosen successor. At some point between then and Cameron’s departure, the plan went, Davidson would “do a Douglas-Home” and move to the Commons — as Harold Macmillan’s successor, the Earl of Home, had done in 1963. Davidson would remain in the government, renounce her peerage, and be fast-tracked into a safe Commons seat. There would be a byelection, and she would then be in the Commons, in a box seat to win the leadership — the best bet to stop Johnson, and all with Cameron’s backing. Who can say whether all this would in fact have occurred if events had not got in the way in 2016?”

Who indeed Martin.

Matthew Norman joined in writing: “Ruth Davidson is the relatable leader the Tories so desperately need as PM”.

John Rentoull joined the throng penning a ridiculous piece: “I’m convinced Ruth Davidson could be the next prime minister…”

Chris McCall chipped in with this “Could Ruth Davidson be Prime Minister?”

Political commentator David Torrance joined in pointing out that, constitutionally, being an MP is not a prerequisite to becoming prime minister. “Sir Alec Douglas-Home was PM for two weeks without being an MP, pending a by-election in Perth,” he said.

In an over-enthusiastic piece in the Scotsman (accompanied with gushing video), Paris Gourtsoyannis wrote (‘ Scots Tories plot to keep Boris Johnson out of Downing St ‘):

“Senior Scottish Tories are involved in a plot to keep Boris Johnson out of Downing Street over fears his leadership would destroy the party’s revival north of the Border.”

In a remarkable sentence Gourtsoyannis writes: “Internal party polling and analysis shows victory for Mr Johnson in a leadership contest to succeed Theresa May would boost the Labour Party in Scotland, putting at risk several of the Westminster seats the Tories won in 2017 and making it impossible for Ruth Davidson to become First Minister.”

And on and on it went relentlessly, unquestioning enthusiasm for an under-achieving mediocrity. It was the apogee of style over substance, the high point of lifestyle over ideas.

The scribes are a bit quieter now. Operation Arse is over. Davidson is saddled with Johnson’s homophobia and her power, such as it ever was, has vanished. She’s been completely undermined and humiliated.

This isn’t just schadenfreude.

Come the next general election, or the next Scottish election, this will matter. The media’s eager efforts to talk-up Davidson as a powerful voice within the Conservative Party, with the PM’s ear and only a step outside high office herself, has gone. To say the party’s not exactly over-brimming with talent to replace her is an understatement.

The Scottish Conservatives face a quandary over Brexit as the most rare challenging interview exposed:

‘Have you heard anything positive about Brexit for Scotland?’

Watch @STVColin interview @RuthDavidsonMSP at Tory party conference in Birmingham. pic.twitter.com/vyVbAQ5wO6

- Dan Vevers (@DanVevers) October 1, 2018

Whatever purpose Davidson served for the centrist fantasies of a dozen political columnists that dream is now over.

In its place is the reality of a No Deal Brexit overseen by Union Jack. Some people have got some explaining to do.

Originally published at https://bellacaledonia.org.uk on July 26, 2019.

Writer/Editor