A FORMER ‘Gazette’ reporter has launched her campaign to become leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, reports MIKE DELANEY.
Ruth Davidson, who worked on the newspaper early last decade, is up against two other candidates in her bid for the top job.
She was 21 years-old and had just graduated from university when she got her first reporting job at the Glenrothes Gazette.
Ruth recalls: “The thing that was most interesting in my time at the ‘Gazette’, given what I do now, was learning all the local government stuff, which is something I knew nothing about before I started work in Glenrothes.
“I particularly remember doing a piece about the Leonard Cheshire Home in the town and being really impressed with that.
“I’m actually up and down to the area quite a bit because my parents still live in the East Neuk and I still have all my cuttings from every single paper that I wrote for.
“I enjoyed my time in Glenrothes and I certainly recall all the roundabouts!”
Ruth, who is now 32 years-old, was born in the Borders, but brought up in Fife and attended Buckhaven High School before studying at both Edinburgh and Glasgow universities.
After leaving the ‘Gazette’, she worked for a number of radio stations, latterly as a presenter with BBC Scotland.
A Church of Scotland member and former Sunday school teacher, she also served in the Territorial Army for three years before having to leave after breaking her back in a training exercise.
Ruth is also an avid Scotland supporter and can claim a family football heritage as her dad used to play in goals for Partick Thistle.
Openly gay, she lives in Glasgow where her performances at a Westminister by-election and last year’s General Election won her praise from political pundits.
Earlier this year, she was elected as a list MSP for the city at the Scottish Elections, and is the party’s spokeswoman for culture, Europe and external relations and a member of cross-party committees on heart disease and stroke and Malawi.
She was no sooner at Holyrood than she was being touted as a potential leader to succeeded the outgoing boss Annabel Goldie, whose office she had previously worked in.
The leadership campaign has fired the imagination of political pundits, because one of her rivals for the job, Murdo Fraser, has suggested that he might disband the party and start a new one to try and revive the fortunes of the centre-right in Scotland after years of defeat at the polls.
It’s an idea to which Ruth is vehemently opposed, explaining: “It seems a strange thing to stand for leadership of a political party and admit that if you win, you will then disband it.
“So, no it’s not something I am in favour of.”
What she is in favour of is trying to build Tory support, even in areas like Glenrothes which have been barren ground for the party over the years.
“Because of the list system (under which a party gets a proportion of MSPs in relation to total votes cast for it in an area) it can’t really be said, as used to be the case, that voting Tory somewhere like Glenrothes is a wasted voted, because they all count,” she said.
Ruth also dismisses claims that she is too inexperienced for the job, but whether such suggestions will influence members won’t be known until the result is announced on November 4.