Gina Davidson: Tory heads are being held high again

Ruth Davidson won Edinburgh Central.

Ruth Davidson won Edinburgh Central.

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SPRING was in the air.

From the hyacinth colours of peach and lilac voting slips to a new bounce in the step of Conservative Party members, the season of change and rebirth swept through Ingliston’s Highland Hall last night and into the early hours of this morning.

For the first time in decades Conservatives paraded around an Edinburgh election count, blue rosettes pinned proudly to chests, rather than collecting in corners swapping tales of the abuse received on the election trail.

They knew who they had to thank – leader Ruth Davidson, whose personality-driven campaign is said to have “detoxified” the Tory brand. Certainly they greeted her with the kind of adulation once reserved for politicians of the ilk of Tony Blair when she arrived: a not-quite conquering hero.

But why not?

It has taken three decades for them to feel able to hold their heads up again.

Green shoots were also evident in the formerly hibernating Liberal Democrat vote – Alex Cole-Hamilton taking the Edinburgh Western seat from the SNP.

Only the red roses on 
the lapels of Labour activists appeared to be still touched by cruel winter.

While there was jubilation at the result in Edinburgh Southern – and that of Iain Gray being returned in East Lothian – it was tempered by the 
fact that the party’s 
leader, Kezia Dugdale, could not overturn the SNP in Eastern and be elected as a constituency MSP.

The first result of the night, though, went to the victorious national party, the SNP taking the long-held Labour seat of Edinburgh Northern and Leith – made vacant by Malcolm Chisholm.

What he makes of the new political spring in Edinburgh is not yet known – but we can imagine.