Ruth Davidson sends a warning to us all

Ruth Davidson MSP

Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson has said that she will not put herself forward to be Prime Minister.

“I don’t want to be Prime Minister,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Times, adding that she would never stand for the role. “I value my relationship and my mental health too much for it. I will not be a candidate.” This should horrify not only those of us who wanted to see Davidson in Downing Street but everyone who cares about politics.

A broken system

If someone as talented as Ruth Davidson thinks that aiming for the top means sacrificing family, health and happiness, the system is truly broken.

Her feeling that “the idea that I would have a child in Edinburgh and then immediately go down to London four days a week and leave it up here is offensive,” is troubling enough. The arcane way Westminster operates means that things like proxy voting still do not exist. Parental leave is largely managed by convention. This is clearly one of the reasons why the representation of women in Parliament is still relatively poor.

However, it is her fear that such ambitions would once again put her mental health at risk that is the most worrying. What are we demanding of our political leaders that she should feel like this?

Davidson has a big job already. She does not shy away, something I know from interviewing her. Clearly, it is something else that is putting her off taking the next step. The invasiveness, the demands on time, the vitriol received, it all seemingly makes Westminster untenable for Davidson and surely many others.

All that happens though is the most talented people simply do not bother entering politics. (If they do, they curtail their role.) This leaves the very top jobs open to the selfish, the untalented and, to put it bluntly, the deluded.

Ultimately, it means is that we all lose out.


My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound

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