In yesterday’s Evening News, the paper’s regular columnist, Martin Hannan, decided that he didn’t like the idea of me standing for election in Edinburgh. He really, really didn’t like it.
Under a banner headline stating “We must send her homeward tae think again” he concluded that “Ruth Davidson is not welcome here. She is not welcome anywhere in civilised Scottish society.”
The problem with his attack – apart from being rather clumsy and a bit shrill – is that it’s difficult for him to “send me home” because Edinburgh is my home.
It’s the city I was born in, the city I was educated in and the city I’ve returned to again and again to live and work. Edinburgh’s where I celebrated my first legal drink at my 18th birthday party and cashed my first paycheck from my first full-time job. It’s where I graduated, where the parliament sits, and where I live now.
Every street and corner holds a memory – flats I’ve lived in at the Cowgate, Marchmont, Bruntsfield, Tollcross, Abbeyhill and Broughton. Parks I’ve walked my dogs in, offices I’ve worked in, pubs I’ve drunk in and clubs I’ve danced (badly) in. Jobs I’ve had, people I’ve met, relationships formed – they all make up who I am.
And this is where I take issue with Mr Hannan, because the Edinburgh I know, the Edinburgh where I have lived, loved, worked and played; that Edinburgh is a welcoming city. It’s a city that throws open its arms – not just at Festival time, but all year round – to anyone who wants to make it home. It is a world city with a global outlook, not a narrow, jealous place turning its back and bolting the door.
In yesterday’s article, the author was at pains to point out that he was “a good SNP member”, which is a shame, as a great proportion of SNP colleagues I know would run a mile from his brand of narrow bigotry. I fought hard during the referendum to keep Scotland in the UK and I believe wholeheartedly in Britain. It’s important that the two million Scots who voted No feel they have a voice in Holyrood and I believe the Scottish Conservatives can be that voice.
I’ve helped build the Conservative vote in Glasgow over the last four years and I’m confident that no matter which of our impressive activists tops our list, they’ll be returned as an MSP. But I see a real opportunity in Lothian for the Scottish Conservatives to increase our number of MSPs and I’m determined to do all I can to make it happen.
That’s why I’m fighting the next election here. It’s good to be home.
Ruth Davidson is leader of the Scottish Conservative Party