Ruth Davidson: Tories should smile more

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Ruth Davidson has warned that many Tories are too dour and authoritarian when engaging with the public.

The Scottish Conservatives leader said her experience of politics north of the Border suggested that voters responded best “when you fight for what you believe in” but added it was only when you did it with a smile that “people really get behind you”.

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson said the party could come across as 'too authoritarian'. Picture: AFP/Getty

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson said the party could come across as 'too authoritarian'. Picture: AFP/Getty

Speaking at an event in London last night, the MSP for Edinburgh Central said: “Too often, conservatives end up – well, a bit dour. Authoritarian. Just a tad joyless. A party that sounds like its only pitch is like those hectoring signs you see on the tube – Please Stand on the Right.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in Scotland, it’s that when you fight for what you believe, people listen – but it’s when you do it with a smile that people really get behind you.”

Ms Davidson has previously spoken of the need for Conservatives to engage with younger voters.

Tory membership numbers are in steep and long-term decline, with the party on the verge of being overtaken by the SNP as the second largest party in the UK in terms of members.

She continued: “We hear a lot about a generation that’s been turned off the Conservatives, full stop. But I think this misreads the resilience of our values.

“Of course we have to feel the frustration of a young person trying to get on the housing ladder.

“We have to understand the insecurity of someone bouncing between shifts and jobs in the short-term gig economy.”

Asked by reporters today if she was going to bring joy to Mrs May’s monthly meeting of top party officials, Ms Davidson referred to the Scottish secretary, saying: “That’s what David (Mundell)’s for.”