What seems like a billion years ago (but in fact it was only a few months), there used to be this crazy notion that Ruth Davidson might be the next Prime Minister. Bookies used to list her as a serious contender. When her fans began to come to terms with the fact that wasn't going to happen, we started to hear about how she was instead going to be the "kingmaker". Well, today has exploded that myth in rather comical fashion. Having failed to persuade her own Scottish Tory MPs to follow her directions, her preferred candidate Savid Javid was easily eliminated at lunchtime. She then immediately transferred her support to Michael Gove, with sources briefing that this was an opportunity for the Scottish Tory leadership to exercise some influence. Well, if there was any influence, it somehow managed to drop Michael Gove down a place from second to third, meaning he was eliminated as well.
Having two endorsements blow up in her face in the space of one day is really quite an achievement for Ruth, and I suspect up-and-coming Tory hopefuls will be asking her to keep her distance from now on. Let's hear no more nonsense from the media about how she has influence or leverage in the corridors of power - she clearly has none whatsoever. Scottish voters should be under no illusions that if they vote Tory in a general election, they're voting for the Westminster Tory party in all its ugliness, and not for Ruth Davidson.
Conservative party leadership election (final ballot of MPs):
Boris Johnson 160
Jeremy Hunt 77
Michael Gove 75
Michael Gove eliminated, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt proceed to members' ballot.
What does this mean for us? Well, in one sense it might be just as well to see the back of Gove. Even in a contest in which all the candidates were frantically outbidding each other on who was going to crack down the hardest on Scottish democracy, Gove stood out as the most obsessed with "our precious, precious Union", which may well be why Davidson belatedly backed him. Apparently he had been floating some madcap plan to get a "Union Guarantee" written into international law, whatever that might mean. It's also possible that having a Tory leader with a Scottish accent might have been of some marginal help to the party in defending their north-east seats against the SNP, so at least that danger has been averted.
However, I do believe that having Boris in Number 10 is going to be a double-edged sword for the SNP. He'd probably make it easier for Yes to win an independence referendum, but in the short term, I suspect he'll win back votes from the Brexit Party in Scotland as much as anywhere else, which will make it less challenging for the Scottish Tories to retain at least some of their seats.
Johnson v Gove in the members' ballot would have sent a powerful message to the EU, with the only question being which of the two leading members of the Leave campaign was going to be in charge during the Brexit endgame. As it is, we have a Leaver versus a Remainer - but that may not make a whole lot of difference, because if Hunt's words can be taken at face value, he's more open to the possibility of No Deal than Theresa May was.
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2019 Scot Goes Pop Fundraiser: This is Day 21 of the fundraiser, and so far £7555 has been raised. That's 89% of the way towards the target figure of £8500. A million thanks to everyone who has donated so far, and I'm also extremely grateful to all the people who have left a kind comment with their donation. You can visit the fundraising page HERE.