The referendum campaign was a mixed experience for the Scottish Tories. On the one hand, it was a reminder of how much they are still hated in Scotland: End Tory rule forever, was one of the more frequently heard Nationalist battle cries. On the other, they had one of the campaign’s most effective advocates, Ruth Davidson and were accepted in as part of the cross party campaign. Indeed, it was telling that the Better Together campaign together rather than hiding Davidson away used her more and more as the campaign went on.
In his Scotsman column today, the former Labour spin doctor John McTernan declares that ‘Ruth Davidson’s campaign has detoxified’ the Scottish Conservatives. This is a particularly striking statement coming from a former Labour partisan.
Now, no one should get carried away. Even in the Thatcher low-point for the Tories in Scotland of 1987, the party won 10 seats. It is not going to match that performance for a very long time. But with an effective leader in Davidson and an agenda, the Scottish Tories have, at least, begun the long march back.