Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is moving to the centre ground in order to increase her chances of becoming the next First Minister, a BBC Scotland reporter has claimed.
Andrew Kerr was speaking on BBC Scotland’s Politics Scotland programme when he was asked about the Conservative MP’s latest speech in which she appeared to challenge policies her own party was pursuing at Westminster.
The BBC Scotland reporter said: “Something that’s afoot is a very definite pitch from Ruth Davidson that she wants to be, or attempting to be, the First Minister of Scotland at the next Scottish parliamentary election in 2021.
“I think very carefully trying to position herself in the centre ground.”
Kerr justified his claim by listing vague pledges made by Davidson in a Glasgow University speech the MSP delivered on Tuesday, telling programme host Gordon Brewer: “Ruth Davidson was also saying that the NHS is at a crunch point and any future tax rises should now be foregone to make sure that that money goes directly to the NHS.
“She was talking almost about hypothecated taxes – taxes directly linked to make sure that someone’s money is going to hospitals.
“She was also setting out a pitch for younger voters, calling for better housing, vocational education and to older voters, saying that she was looking for improved social care.
“So, there was something for everyone there.”
Questioned by programme host Gordon Brewer on the realistic prospects of Davidson becoming First Minister, and who she might form a coalition with, Kerr replied. “She partly addressed this in her speech yesterday.
“She was saying, that in the 2016 Holyrood election she set out a clear prospectus that she was running for a strong opposition and in the speech yesterday she said, well, you can’t do that the second time around, you can’t run in 2021 saying that she wants to be a strong opposition, she’s saying now she wants to be the First Minister of Scotland.”
Despite acknowledging the prospect of a Ruth Davidson First Minister was “very unlikely” many serious political observers will be bemused that such a far-fetched scenario could be presented as remotely realistic by a BBC Scotland reporter.
The analysis follows near saturation coverage of Davidson’s speech from the Scottish media, with broadcasters and newspapers following a similar pro-Ruth line. The Scottish Conservative leader was presented as challenging her own party’s policies on the NHS and immigration.
However, there was criticism of what many felt was a near total refusal on the part of the media to question the MSP who appeared to contradict statements she herself had made in the past. The voting record of Tory MSPs and MPs also appeared at odds with the portrayal of the Scottish Conservatives as a centrist party.
The positive coverage and lack of scrutiny enjoyed by the leading Unionist politician in Scotland is set to continue as the threat of Scottish independence refuses to diminish. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a decision on the timing of any second referendum will be made only when the Brexit situation becomes clearer.
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