Ruth Davidson reminded English Tories of what they were missing with her conference speech. It was confident, funny and optimistic. She told the Tories to stop panicking, pull themselves together and beat Jeremy Corbyn. She argued that the bursting of the SNP bubble showed that the Corbyn bubble could be burst. But she warned that this would only happen if the Tories pulled together and put the work in.
On Brexit, Davidson told the Tories that it is time that we ‘made it clear – that we’re not Leavers or Remainers anymore – we’re just Brits.’ This got huge applause, and is undoubtedly the right sentiment. But Davidson, as with her Saturday attack on Boris Johnson, doesn’t always follow this advice herself.
When it came to the Union, Davidson offered a compelling argument for why we need ‘more Union’ in the devolved nations and regions, why the institutions of government need to be present there. She is undoubtedly right about this. When powers come back to the UK with Brexit, that should be used as an opportunity to make this happen. For instance, why shouldn’t most of DEFRA be based in Aberdeen?
Davidson isn’t coming south — well, certainly not before the 2021 Holyrood election—as she reminded the audience, quipping ‘I love London. No plans to move there myself, but great to visit.’ But Davidson’s bullish, can-do approach is precisely what the Tories need to adopt as they try and take on Jeremy Corbyn. As she pointed out, ‘he hasn’t won a raffle yet’ and is beatable if the Tories can get their own house in order.