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November 7, 2011

IconScottish Conservative Party elects first lesbian leader

MSP Ruth Davidson became the first openly gay leader of a major British political party at the weekend when she was chosen to lead the Scottish Conservatives.

“With the radical, generational change that I represent, this is a unique opportunity for us to rebuild the party and to once again become a powerful, meaningful and relevant force in Scottish politics and in Scottish life,” she declared following her victory.

Davidson is the party’s first overall leader in Scotland. She will be faced with the challenge of reviving Tory fortunes: the Scottish Conservative Party holds just one seat in Westminster, and 15 seats in the 129-seat Scottish Parliament after winning 13.9% of the vote in this year’s elections.

The new leader has already sought to distance herself from the UK Conservative party leadership. “While David Cameron is my Prime Minister, when he comes to Scotland he’s not my boss – we’re colleagues,” Davidson told a press conference.

“I’ll be making a vision that is right for Scotland, right for the Scottish Conservatives, and I hope very much to work with our Prime Minister,” she added. “But if he needs a quiet tap on the shoulder, then I’m just the girl to do it.”

In contrast, leadership rival Murdo Fraser – originally tipped to defeat Davidson in last week’s vote – had controversially called for the Scottish Conservative Party to be abolished altogether and replaced with a new centre-right political movement.

David Cameron congratulated Davidson following her victory. “I am delighted to congratulate Ruth on winning this leadership election and look forward to working with her to strengthen the Union and build a better future for Scotland,” he said.

However, Davidson’s election was criticised by some within the party. QC Paul McBride has already resigned from the Scottish Conservatives, branding them “a bunch of unreconstructed morons” in an article for the Sunday Herald.

“They have replaced one nice woman with one not so very nice woman,” he added.

Davidson replaces Annabel Goldie, who led the party from 2005.

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