A 'steady-as-she-goes' choice of captain can sometimes be wise, but not when the ship sunk without trace fifteen years ago. The Tories had a golden opportunity to reconnect with the heartbeat of modern Scotland yesterday, and even to steal a pass on Labour in the process, but they've fluffed their lines yet again. So they're now stuck with Ruth Davidson for what could well be a very, very long time, and they'll just have to cling to the positives, such as they are. And those positives can only really be her personal qualities, because her wizard strategic plan seems to be (as Murdo Fraser pointed out) to carry on doing exactly what the party has been doing for many years and expect different results. Yes, it would normally be a matter of some note that the Tories have elected a young, articulate woman as leader, but they've had an articulate female leader for the last few years, so clearly that in itself isn't sufficient. And as for Davidson's youth and "freshness", that could well be a double-edged sword - I'd suggest that 32 is at the absolute extreme lower end of the age range within which someone can look plausible as a party leader. Even Alex Salmond was three years older than that when he first became SNP leader in 1990, and it was a good three or four years later before he stepped out of the shadow of Jim Sillars and really looked like a man in command.
So what happened yesterday is undoubtedly a retrograde step for the Scottish Tories, but is it bad for Scotland as well? My gut feeling is yes, because a Fraser victory would have finally forced the UK government to reluctantly accept the realities of the new Scotland. As it is, Davidson joins Willie Rennie as yet another loyal Scottish cheerleader for the London delusion that nothing really changed in May, and therefore nothing needs to be done. But as Kenny Farquharson has pointed out, that stubbornness could easily backfire on the unionist parties and make full independence a more attractive proposition to the electorate than would have been the case had devo max been embraced. And it has to be said the SNP's own long-term electoral prospects in large swathes of Scotland are looking considerably brighter today.