February 2020 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election


The February 2020 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election was the fourth internal party election to elect the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives, part of the British Conservative Party and the second-largest political party in the devolved Scottish Parliament. Ruth Davidson, who won the previous leadership election in 2011, resigned on 29 August 2019. Two candidates contested the election; Jackson Carlaw MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), who served as the Scottish Conservatives' interim leader,[1] and Michelle Ballantyne MSP. Carlaw was seen as the favourite in the contest, and won the endorsement of most of the party's MSPs and MPs (Members of Parliament).[2] Carlaw won the election on 14 February 2020, winning more than three-quarters of the votes of party members.

February 2020 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election

 2011 1–13 February 2020 (2020-02-01 2020-02-13) Next 
 
Candidate Jackson Carlaw Michelle Ballantyne
Delegate votes 4,917 1,581
Percentage 75.7% 24.3%

Leader before election

Ruth Davidson
Jackson Carlaw (Acting)

Elected Leader

Jackson Carlaw

The leadership election was expected to take place in late 2019, but was delayed due to the 2019 United Kingdom general election. Carlaw represented the Conservatives in the two Scottish televised debates during the election campaign.[3]

Background


On 28 August 2019, the Scottish Sun reported that Ruth Davidson was 'on the verge of resigning' due to disagreements with the leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson, and the pressure with motherhood after giving birth to her first child in October 2018.[4] On the next day, Ruth Davidson confirmed her resignation and said she would remain as an MSP until 2021. At the same time, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw, who previously stood in for Davidson during her maternity leave, was announced as the interim leader of the party ahead of the leadership election.[5]

On 1 September, Adam Tomkins proposed that if he was ever to stand and be elected as leader, he might propose a new party to replace the Scottish Conservatives to create a pro-union alliance party made up of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats MSPs. However, he said that if Murdo Fraser stood, he wouldn't.

The Herald reported that a permanent leader might not be in office until 2020, citing divisions on Brexit and the possibility of an early UK general election. The UK Parliament subsequently legislated for a general election to be held on 12 December 2019, which delayed the Scottish Conservative leadership election until early 2020.[6] Carlaw served as interim leader during the election campaign, and represented the party during both of the Scottish television debates.[6][7] In the 2019 general election the Conservatives won six seats in Scotland, losing seven of the 13 they had won in 2017.[8]

This loss in Scotland contrasted with a strong performance in England and Wales, which meant that the party won an overall majority of 80.[8]. There was a growing fear that following what had been a surprisingly good result for the Conservative Party, Jackson Carlaw would be elected leader with no opposition.

Many senior Conservatives felt that with Holyrood elections coming up it would be better to avoid a contest and focus on uniting against the SNP.[9]

Candidates


Candidate Born Political office Campaign Ref.

Michelle Ballantyne
28 November 1962
(age 57)
Social security spokesperson (since 2018)
MSP for South Scotland (since 2017)

Campaign
[9]

Jackson Carlaw
12 April 1959
(age 61)
Acting leader of the Scottish Conservatives (since 2019)
MSP for Eastwood (since 2016)
MSP for West Scotland (2007–2016)

Campaign
[10]

Declined

Campaign


Michelle Ballantyne announced her candidacy and was soon followed by Jackson Carlaw. Carlaw gained support from all his frontbenchers and many of his backbenchers plus former backbencher and former MP Ross Thomson.

Jackson Carlaw launched his campaign on 15 January 2020, focusing on the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections in 2021 and the next council elections in 2022, Jackson Carlaw built his campaign on wanting to spend the next eighteen months leading up to the elections at the Scottish Parliament to take down Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party in the process. Carlaw nominated Euan Waddell as his campaign manager, with MSPs Rachael Hamilton MSP and Liam Kerr MSP being co-chairs of his campaign.

The first hustings of the campaign took place in Glasgow on 24 January 2020.

Hustings

Date Location
24 January 2020Glasgow
25 January 2020Moffat
26 January 2020Perth
26 January 2020Edinburgh
1 February 2020Aberdeen
2 February 2020Inverness

Result


Scottish Conservative Party leadership election, 2020
PartyCandidateFPv%Count 1
Conservative Jackson Carlaw 75.7 Y 4,917
Conservative Michelle Ballantyne 24.3 1,581
Results of the 2020 Scottish Conservative leadership election
Jackson Carlaw
75.7%
Michelle Ballantyne
24.3%

Endorsements


Jackson Carlaw

Michelle Ballantyne

Timeline of events


2019

  • 29 August – Ruth Davidson announces her resignation as Scottish Conservative leader
  • 1 September – Adam Tomkins states that he would not stand for leadership if Murdo Fraser stands[23]
  • 8 September – A new campaign, Scottish Conservatives Together, is set up in response to oppose an independent Scottish Conservative party. The campaign has hinted the possibility of Murdo Fraser or Adam Tomkins running for leader as they have advocated for a split in the party
  • 14 October – The Scottish Conservatives begin the process of selecting a permanent leader
  • 12 December – The Scottish Conservatives stand in the 2019 general election under the leadership of Jackson Carlaw with the election resulting in the party losing seven out of the thirteen seats won in the 2017 election under the leadership of Ruth Davidson

2020

  • 3 January – Michelle Ballantyne announces that she will be a candidate in the contest if she obtains the 100 nominations required.[24]
  • 5 January – Jackson Carlaw publishes an article in the Sunday Times appearing to suggest his intention to run for leadership.
  • 5 January – Annie Wells rules out running for leader[25]
  • 6 January – Jackson Carlaw officially announces his intention to run for leadership of the party[26][27]
  • 14 January – Michelle Ballantyne is confirmed as a candidate after reaching the required 100 nominations[28]
  • 15 January – Jackson Carlaw launches his campaign at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh
  • 17 January – Nominations close. The Scottish Conservatives reveal that the leader will be announced on 14 February. Both Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne received enough nominations to pass through to the voting round[29]
  • 20 January – Michelle Ballantyne launches her campaign with an emphasis of winning over the working-class voters[30]
  • 24 January – First hustings for the election take place in Glasgow
  • 25 January – Second[citation needed] husting for the election takes place in Moffat[31]
  • 26 January – Third and fourth hustings for the election take place in Edinburgh and Perth
  • 1 February – Fifth husting for the election takes place in Aberdeen
  • 1 February – Ballot open up until 13 February, the day before the leadership election ends
  • 2 February – Sixth and final husting takes place in Inverness
  • 14 February – Jackson Carlaw wins election and defeats Michelle Ballantyne by 4,917 votes to 1,581 votes.[2]

Subsequent events


On 30 July 2020, Carlaw announced his resignation as leader of the Scottish Conservatives with immediate effect, saying it had become clear to him he was not the best person to make the case for Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. Carlaw had represented the Conservatives at the week's First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament shortly before announcing his resignation.[32]

See also


References


  1. Taylor, Brian (3 October 2019). "How long will Jackson Carlaw remain interim Scottish Conservative leader?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  2. "Scottish Conservatives: Jackson Carlaw succeeds Ruth Davidson as leader". BBC News. 14 February 2020. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  3. "Election 2019: Scottish party leaders clash in debate". BBC News. 3 December 2019. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020. the Scottish Conservatives' interim leader Jackson Carlaw ... took part
  4. "Scottish Tory leader 'on verge of quitting'". BBC News. 29 August 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  5. Taylor, Brian (3 October 2019). "How long will Jackson Carlaw remain interim Scottish Conservative leader?". BBC News. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  6. Johnson, Simon (11 December 2019). "Ruth Davidson endorses Jackson Carlaw for Scottish Tory leadership". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  7. "Election 2019: Scottish party leaders clash in debate". BBC News. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  8. "Scotland election results 2019: SNP wins election landslide in Scotland". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  9. Johnson, Simon (3 January 2020). "Scottish Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne to stand for party leadership to ensure contest, not coronation". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  10. Carlaw, Jackson (5 January 2020). "Scottish Conservatives must build on our progress and offer alternatives". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 January 2020. (subscription required)
  11. Briggs, Miles [@MilesBriggsMSP] (6 January 2020). "The next 17 months will be critical as we work to remove the tired, failed SNP from office. @ScotTories need to take the fight to the SNP and demonstrate the fresh thinking and new ideas we offer to move Scotland forward. That's why I'm backing @Jackson_Carlaw #TeamJackson" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  12. Janiak, Kevin (8 January 2020). "Ballantyne in hunt for 100 nominations". Southern Reporter. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  13. Fraser, Murdo [@murdo_fraser] (5 January 2020). "Good piece by ⁦@Jackson_Carlaw - he's the right person to take ⁦@ScotTories forward as we focus on the 2021 Holyrood election" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 10 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  14. Lockhart, Dean [@DeanLockhartMSP] (6 January 2020). "Excellent article by Jackson on the way forward for @ScotTories going into 2021 Holyrood elections. We need to take the fight to this failed SNP Government and remove them from office. That is why I am backing @Jackson_Carlaw #TeamJackson" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  15. Smith, Liz [@MspLiz] (5 January 2020). "Good piece by ⁦@Jackson_Carlaw who has my full support in leadership election" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  16. Tomkins, Adam [@ProfTomkins] (6 January 2020). "Delighted that my friend @Jackson_Carlaw has formally announced he's running to lead the @ScotTories. He's got my vote! #TeamJackson" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  17. Whittle, Brian [@BrianWhittle] (2 February 2020). "My choice for leader is @Jackson_Carlaw We need experience and drive to take us into 2021 elections which he has in spades!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 3 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  18. Green [@ChrisGreenNews] (5 January 2020). "[email protected] not running for Scottish Tory leadership. A spokesman tells @theipaper: "Annie has been flattered by people asking her to stand but her sole focus is how we stop Nicola Sturgeon in 2021. She won't be running."" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  19. Johnson, Simon (6 January 2020). "Frontrunner Jackson Carlaw confirms he is standing for Scottish Tory leadership". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  20. Hamilton, Rachael [@Rachael2Win] (6 January 2020). "At the 2021 election, we need to take the fight to the SNP and hold their shambolic and failing government to account. That's why I'm proud to co-chair @Jackson_Carlaw's campaign as the best person who can lead us forward and beat Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP #TeamJackson" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  21. Duncan, Ian [@IanDuncanHMG] (6 January 2020). "Just posted my nomination papers for @Jackson_Carlaw to be @ScotTories leader. Right man, right time #TeamJackson" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  22. Thomson, Ross [@RossThomson_Abz] (7 January 2020). "✍🏻I have signed my nomination paper for @MBallantyneMSPto be the next @ScotTories leader. Members deserve a contest not a coronation. Michelle has the experience and the ideas to make our party a home for working people across Scotland. #BackingBallantyne #BlueCollarRevolution" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  23. Boothman, John (1 September 2019). "Boost for Fraser in bid to replace Davidson". The Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  24. Johnson, Simon (3 January 2020). "Scottish Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne to stand for party leadership to ensure contest, not coronation". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  25. Green, Chris (5 January 2020). "Scottish Tory leadership contenders set to face off in two-horse race". i. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020. On Sunday Annie Wells, another MSP tipped for a leadership bid, also ruled herself out of the contest
  26. Carlaw, Jackson [@Jackson_Carlaw] (6 January 2020). "As nominations open for leader of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party this morning, I can confirm I'll be standing. We must take the fight to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, broadening our platform and diversifying our party. I'm ready for the fight. Join me #TeamJackson" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  27. "Scottish Conservative leadership contest begins". BBC News. 6 January 2020. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  28. Kerr, Andrew [@BBCandrewkerr] (14 January 2020). "[email protected] has now received 100+ nominations from party members - so that officially triggers a Scottish Conservative leadership contest" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 17 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  29. Scottish Conservatives [@ScotTories] (17 January 2020). "Nominations have closed in the Scottish Conservative leadership contest. @MBallantyneMSP and @Jackson_Carlaw will go forward to the ballot of members with the result being announced on the 14th of February" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 18 January 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020 via Twitter.
  30. Taylor, Brian (20 January 2020). "'Polite zeal' at Michelle Ballantyne leadership launch". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  31. Renton, Dawn (28 January 2020). "Grilling for leadership hopefuls Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne". Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020. They addressed nearly a hundred party members at a hustings in the Annandale Hotel, Moffat on Saturday afternoon
  32. "Carlaw quits as Scottish Conservative leader". BBC News. 2020-07-30. Retrieved 2020-07-30.