Political opponents portrayed Tories as “baby eaters” in Scotland, claims Ruth Davidson
In an exclusive interview, Ruth Davidson argued that having Conservatives in elected positions across Scotland would allow the party to repair its image
Image credit: David Anderson
Myths perpetuated by the political opponents of the Scottish Conservatives allowed the party to be “othered” and “painted as baby eaters” in Scotland, Ruth Davidson has claimed.
In an exclusive interview ahead of the Scottish Conservative conference, Davidson told Holyrood that a lack of Conservative MPs in Scotland over the last 20 years allowed the party’s opponents to misrepresent them as “evil Tories” responsible for the demise of industry.
The comments come after SNP Minister for Childcare and Early Years Maree Todd wrongly claimed in a previous interview with Holyrood that Margaret Thatcher was forced to appoint an English MP as Secretary of State for Scotland during her time as prime minister because her party had no MPs north of the border. In fact Thatcher won 22 seats in Scotland in 1979, 21 in 1983 and 10 in 1987. Todd later said that this was her memory as a child.
Davidson has overseen a revival of the party’s fortunes in Scotland over the last few years, winning 31 seats at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, 13 seats at the 2017 general election and 276 seats at the 2017 local government election.
Speaking to Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes, the Scottish Tory leader argued that having Conservatives in elected positions across Scotland would allow the party to repair its image.
She said: “These are vitally important because having proper local champions in the place where they’re born and raised and work and know people, makes such a difference for us because part of the issue that I faced when I became leader was that because after 1997, when there weren’t any elected Conservatives in Scotland, our opponents wrote our history for us and we were painted as baby eaters that had shut this industry and shut that industry and so on.
“I remember my first election that I fought, in the Glasgow North East by-election, I was being told that the Tories had shut the railyards at Cowlairs and at St Rollox, or more precisely, that Thatcher had shut them. But they actually shut because they were making steam locomotives and the world moved to diesel and I think at the time they shut in the 60s, Margaret Thatcher could still have been an industrial chemist making the secret ingredient for Mr Whippy ice-cream – she certainly wasn’t in charge of the country – but this myth had taken hold about the evil Tories. And of course, it’s in your opponents’ interest to paint you as these different things, as un-Scottish, as not of the place, of being somehow ‘othered’.
“As Tories, we’d been ‘othered’ for some time but having local representatives, people that you can see that are like you, that go to your church, that work in your factory, that live in your street, working hard for their community, do more to give us a platform for the future than even a good result at the general election or a good result in the Scottish Parliament one. They will be the platform on which we’ll grow and which we’ll build.”
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