Scottish Tory leadership hopeful Ruth Davidson was in Shetland today proclaiming the importance of proper investment in ferry links to the isles.
With ballot papers now circulated to party members, her visit was part of a campaign tour of all Scotland’s Westminster constituencies to canvass support in the contest to replace the outgoing Annabel Goldie.
She is up against current deputy leader Murdo Fraser, who wants to abolish the existing party and create a new centre-right party, and fellow MSPs Jackson Carlaw and Margaret Mitchell. The result is due on 4th November.
Ms Davidson, a former BBC journalist, said she believed firmly in the importance of good infrastructure in rural areas, particularly ferries which were the direct equivalent of the M8 in the central belt, and government had a responsibility to ensure there was sufficient investment in these services.
“This is important because kids should not feel they need to go to cities to work. It is vitally important that we support all areas of Scotland.”
Ms Davidson met party members at Islesburgh Community Centre, although local Tory stalwart Maurice Mullay refused to say how many there were. The party gained just 330 votes at this year’s Scottish parliamentary elections and lost its deposit.
Ms Davidson said she did not accept that the Tory Party was a damaged brand in Scotland. David Cameron had shown what could be done to improve its appeal in England and the new Scottish leader would have to follow suit.
Scotland’s sole Conservative MP since 2005, David Mundell, was also in the isles this week lending his support to her campaign. He said she was a “bright, energetic young woman” who offered a “generational change” for the Tories north of the border. He also backed her opposition to the disbanding of the Scottish party, which had suffered a “long period of decline” which in part pre-dated the Thatcher government, saying that a name change was not “some sort of silver bullet”.
Mr Mundell said: “There are local needs in distinct local parts of Scotland [and] she very much promotes what’s called a ‘localism agenda’, [where] decisions here in Shetland are appropriate to Shetland rather than uniform policies … based on what’s happening in Glasgow or Edinburgh. We’ve seen a lot of that, particularly on things like the health service and education. Policies have been determined based on how they would operate in cities and are totally inappropriate to rural areas.”