Stephen Pollard is editor of the Jewish Chronicle and a widely published freelancer; as a commentator on topics such as Brexit, free speech and Leftist anti-Semitism his views generally are sound. However, Pollard definitely had an off day when he recently contributed to the Express an item titled ‘Is Ruth Davidson the best PM we’ll never have?’
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) September 18, 2018
The headline was only mildly hyperbolic: Stephen did not go so far as to hail Davidson Best of the Rest; nonetheless, he did, in all seriousness, conclude his article with the fervent hope that ‘she will not be joining the list of Best Prime Ministers We Never Had’.
Pollard was reacting to a Sunday Times interview published the previous weekend, in which Ruth Davidson was quoted thus: ‘I don’t want to be prime minister. I value my relationship and my mental health too much for it. I will not be a candidate.’
Davidson’s reference to her mental health was an admission that while at university she had self-harmed and suffered clinical depression, at one point spending ‘a whole term living nocturnally’.
As an interesting aside, the heavily pregnant Davidson also commented: ‘The idea that I would have a child in Edinburgh and then immediately go down to London four days a week and leave it up here is offensive. Actually offensive to me.’ Imagine the hullabaloo had any man dared even to suggest that having a new-born might be an impediment to a female Scottish politician switching to a seat at Westminster.
This emphatic rejection of a move south was newsworthy because, in the words of the Sunday Times, ‘A month seldom passes – and the last was no exception – without excitable whispers in the press of some or other plot to move Davidson into Downing Street.’ And Davidson herself had previously been content to play along with a possible move to Westminster by saying ‘I haven’t ruled it out.’
Indeed, only a few weeks earlier it had widely been speculated that she was to be manoeuvred towards the top job via a peerage – a scenario she described in the Sunday Times as ‘b****cks’: ‘I’m 39, I’m leading a political party. No. I do not want to go and be a junior minister in the Lords. I’m coming back to do my job and beat Nicola Sturgeon.’
Identifying ‘lost’ prime ministers can be an interesting political parlour game. However, it is bizarre that Pollard should nominate someone who so far has done no more than lead the opposition in a devolved parliament.
Stephen rightly credits her with revitalising the moribund Scottish Conservatives: with Scottish Labour in disarray, she successfully attracted more of the Unionist vote by vehemently opposing the SNP’s putative re-run of the Independence referendum; however, it is not obvious that Davidson has another club in her bag. Although her stated aim is to be Scotland’s First Minister, it is more likely that at both Holyrood and Westminster the Scottish Tories will struggle to maintain their present representation.
Ruth Davidson being the architect of the Scottish Conservatives’ modest – and probably temporary – revival is a flimsy basis for Stephen Pollard to place her prematurely in his pantheon. In fact, Pollard awards his accolade largely because of what Davidson represents: ‘It is precisely this honesty and ability to change the rules of politics – imagine anyone else having the courage to speak so freely about their mental health issues – that leads so many people to think that Ms Davidson would make a brilliant prime minister . . . instead of seeming to be fighting the modern world, like too many politicians, or approaching it from another generation, she is a properly 21st-century politician comfortable in the same world in which the rest of us live.’
Already lauded for being an artificially impregnated lesbian, Davidson’s admission of previous self-harm and depression has now earned her more plaudits; however, a cynic might observe that these sudden revelations from two decades ago have been self-interestedly timed to publicise the imminent release of her book Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future.
For those uninterested in the boxes ticked by Ruth Davidson, her political philosophy, most of which is indistinguishable from a LibDem, is of far greater concern. Earlier this month TCW published a magisterial critique by Karen Harradine: ‘Davidson’s appeal is her confidence and aura of authority. Though masquerading as strong and protective, the reality is that her type of politics will suffocate conservatism and ultimately destroy it.’
Stephen Pollard is a staunch Brexiteer, who also has written of the need for immigration control and the danger of creeping Islamism – his favourable review of the ‘home truths’ in Douglas Murray’s book The Strange Death of Europe predictably incurred the wrath of Baroness Warsi.
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) August 5, 2018
It therefore is inexplicable that Pollard should champion Ruth Davidson, a Remainer who advocates a Brexit In Name Only, who opposes attempts to curb the level of immigration and who, disgracefully, equates the misogynistic burka with wearing a discreet crucifix pendant. And this charge sheet is in addition to her having no discernible philosophical belief in low taxes and a small state.
According to Sunday Times interviewer Decca Aitkenhead: ‘To the socially progressive, Remain-voting wing of her party, [Davidson] represents almost all that’s left of Cameron’s modernising dreams . . . To the socially conservative Brexiteers, she represents an unquantifiable threat to their current ascendancy.’
Socially conservative Brexiteers are currently in the ascendancy – blimey, who knew? Those of us who fall into this category must hope that Ruth Davidson remains, for perpetuity, on Stephen Pollard’s ‘list of Best Prime Ministers We Never Had’.