Ruth Davidson was narrowly elected leader of the Scottish Conservative Party on Friday, making her the first openly gay head of a major political party in the UK.
First elected to Parliament just earlier this year, Davidson, 32, said in her acceptance speech that “I’ve met our members from Selkirk to Shetland and all points in between… They’ve been engaged, they’ve been enthusiastic, they’ve been welcoming and they’re excited about our bright future too.” While the Conservative Party is in power in Parliament, its popularity in Scotland is minimal and membership is anemic.
Davidson—a former BBC journalist who lives with her partner in Glasgow’s West End—has been open about her sexuality from the start. But she’s also been open about being a devout member of the Church of Scotland, which is still wrestling with how to treat the LGBT community. And her party still has a black eye with gays for passing Section 28, a government act from the 1980s banning schools from “promoting homosexuality.” (It was repealed in 2003.)
At least one person isn’t happy about Davidson’s win: Paul McBride—justice adviser to Davidson’s predecessor, Annabel Goldie—has resigned in the wake of the election. Comparing Davidson to Goldie, who resigned in May, he told the Sunday Herald that the Tories “have replaced one nice woman with one not so very nice woman.” McBride later commented that “The Scottish Tories are no friends of the people of Scotland,” adding that “their naked opportunism… demonstrates why they will remain unelectable.”
Tell us how you really feel, Paul.