To the launch of Onward, the new liberal Conservative think tank. A who’s who of the Tory party, including Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and James Cleverly, gathered in Parliament’s Churchill room to raise a glass to the new venture – headed by Theresa May’s former policy wonk Will Tanner. Launching the event were the new dream team: Ruth Davidson and Michael Gove.
Neither were shy in coming forward. The Scottish Conservatives leader began her speech by joking that the reason she had been invited was to prove the Tory party is diverse:
‘In future when think tanks ask please, can we get a pregnant lesbian, the answer for all those of us who are modernisers in the Conservative Party should be ‘which of the many pregnant lesbians?’
Davidson went on to speak of the hopes she had for the new venture while also voicing her criticisms of what she sees as the Conservatives’ image problem:
‘We look a bit joyless, a bit authoritarian sometimes. We don’t get to win if we start hectoring the people we need to vote for us. We don’t get to say ‘just stand on the right’ like every tube message out there. We’ve got to learn to be a bit more joyful and that’s something that we have tried to learn in Scotland.’
Happily, Davidson’s co-worker Gove was on hand to bring the sunshine. The Defra Secretary praised Theresa May for putting the environment front and centre of the Tories’ pitch to voters. He then spoke about his plans to work with Davidson in the future – comparing themselves to other famous duos:
‘It’s a pleasure of course to be here, particularly for me, with Ruth. And spending some time on the same platform with Ruth, I feel rather like Ike to Tina Turner – or Sonny to Cher. I know where the real talent lies.’
Should Gove and Davidson decide to go all the way and fulfil Tory hopes by forming a joint leadership ticket one day, Mr S advises the pair to avoid comparing themselves going forward to a couple in which one side has been accused of violent spousal abuse.