Tories ‘joyless’ and must stop ‘hectoring’ voters, warns Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson joins Cabinet meeting after delivering withering verdict on May’s ‘joyless’ Tories warning the party must ditch ‘authoritarian’ image to win over young

  • Tory strategists alarmed at failure to attract young people and ethnic minorities
  • Ruth Davidson says the Conservatives are too often seen as ‘dour and joyless’
  • Urged the party to ditch its ‘authoritarian’ image and soften immigration stance
  • Ms Davidson has often been tipped as a future leader to succeed Theresa May 

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson was in Downing Street today for a meeting of the PM’s political Cabinet

Ruth Davidson attended Cabinet today – after delivering a withering verdict on Theresa May’s  dour and joyless’ Tories.

The Scottish Conservative leader was in Downing Street for a political meeting of the PM’s senior team.

But the session could have been slightly awkward after Ms Davidson – often tipped as a future leader – demanded the government ditch its ‘authoritarian’ image to win over younger voters in a speech last night.

The warning – at the launch of a think-tank in parliament – came with the anniversary of Mrs May’s disastrous snap election approaching.

It saw the PM stripped of her overall majority after being branded the ‘Maybot’ during a bungled campaign.

Tory strategists have become increasingly alarmed at the party’s reliance on older supporters and failure to win over ethnic minorities.

While the Tories have around 125,000 members, Labour has well over 500,000, giving them a crucial advantage in swing seats.

Fewer than one-in-five ethnic minority voters backed the party last June, and just 9 per cent of those aged 25 to 39 said they vote Tory next time round, according to research.

Speaking at the Onward launch in parliament, Ms Davidson said: ‘Sometimes as Tories we just look a bit dour.

‘We look a bit joyless, a bit authoritarian sometimes. We don’t get to win if we start hectoring the people we need to vote for us.’

She added: ‘When you do it with a smile, they actually get behind you.’

Ms Davidson is often championed as a future Tory leader, after dramatically reviving the party’s fortunes north of the border.

The dozen new MPs in Scottish constituencies was essential for Mrs May to hold on to power after the election.

Ms Davidson’s humour and lively style has won her legions of fans, and put Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the back foot.

The 39-year-old – often tipped as a possible successor to Theresa May – announced last month that she partner Jen Wilson will be welcoming their baby in the autumn after undergoing IVF.

She posted a photo on Twitter of the couple beaming alongside their cocker spaniel, Wilson, with the message: ‘Our little family of three is becoming four…’ 

Ms Davidson made clear last night that radical changes were needed to fend off a challenge from the Left.

A Tory idea of winning over young people with a Nando’s discount card was humiliatingly snubbed by the restaurant chain yesterday.

The bizarre move had been floated by senior Conservatives as part of efforts to broaden the party’s appeal.

Sources suggested members could be offered a discount card for outlets including Nando’s as a way to draw people on.

However, the restaurant chain made clear it would not agree because it had ‘no political affiliations’.

Ms Davidson suggested foreign students could be taken out of migration figures – an idea that has been dismissed by Mrs May (pictured giving a speech at Jodrell Bank yesterday)

Liam Fox and Liz Truss were among the senior ministers arriving for Cabinet in Downing Street this morning

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, who has been embroiled in a major row with Speaker John Bercow, was at Cabinet today

Ms Davidson spoke of her personal ‘hurt’ at the Windrush scandal, and called for an overhaul of the government’s approach to immigration.

She suggested foreign students could be taken out of migration figures – an idea that has been repeatedly dismissed by Mrs May.

Ms Davidson said public debate about immigration had been much too ‘judgemental’ in the past.

‘I think there’s lots of different questions that we can ask, but we need to do it in a way that is open and that is positive and is in a kind of non-judgemental way, and sometimes in the past it’s been far too judgemental,’ she said.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove (left) and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson were also at the Cabinet meeting this morning

A Tory idea of winning over young people with a Nando’s discount card was humiliatingly snubbed by the restaurant chain yesterday



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