By Bob Duncan
Ruth Davidson’s gaffe-laden speech to mark her first anniversary as leader has unravelled further, as David Cameron simultaneously undermined her attack on wind energy.
Page 7 of yesterday’s Telegraph (06 November) reports a scathing attack by the Scottish Tory leader on wind energy, yet embarrassingly page 2 of the same paper contains calls by her party leader David Cameron for more wind farms to be built.
Westminster’s policy over onshore windfarms suffered a setback last week after a Conservative energy minister admitted that many people had had “enough” of large wind farms being sited near rural communities.
But, speaking to students in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Cameron justified the Coalition’s policy – which is deeply unpopular with some Tory backbenchers – by insisting that the UK needed more capacity to power people’s cars as electric vehicles replaced petrol powered ones in the future.
Conversely, Ruth Davidson accused Alex Salmond of pursuing a “scorched earth policy” by decimating the countryside with more wind farms than are needed for his green energy targets.
The Scottish Tory leader said official figures show the First Minister is on course to “overshoot” his targets by 20 per cent even if “the breaks are applied” to the rapid spread of wind power.
She said there was no need for the “march of the turbines” to continue but SNP ministers were unwilling to review the situation or listen to “besieged” communities’ concerns.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland has astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources, and we have a responsibility to make sure our nation seizes this opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs and secure billions of pounds of investment in our economy.”
The embarrassing lack of communication and coordination between the Tories on either side of the border is not the first time that such difficulties have arisen during Ruth Davidson’s leadership. Condemning the fact that the Scottish Tories have no presence on David Cameron’s radar earlier this year, an anonymous Tory MSP was quoted as saying “It’s ridiculous. Even the Liberal Democrats are better at this.”
Last may, Scottish Tories had accused David Cameron of undermining Ms Davidson’s fledgeling leadership after the Prime Minister made a U-turn on the independence referendum date. Despairing MSPs said the party in Scotland was “not even on his radar” and accused Mr Cameron of hanging Scots party leader “out to dry”.
This latest embarrassment for Ruth Davidson came after her failure yesterday to set out any details on where the cut of over £1 billion to Scotland’s budget she has called for should fall.
SNP MSP Dennis Robertson who is the Deputy Convener of the Westminster Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee said:
“The Tories have been caught out telling people in Scotland one thing and voters in England another.
“She faced exactly the same criticisms earlier this year when David Cameron completely undermined what Ruth Davidson had been saying about Scotland’s referendum.
“It is clear that absolutely nothing has changed and Ruth Davidson has failed to make any impact on David Cameron’s attention during her time as leader.
“Instead of tilting at wind turbines, Ruth Davidson would be far better advised to focus her efforts on trying to hold together her fraying leadership.
“The rate at which her gaffes and errors are piling up means that she will be doing exceptionally well to cling on to her position for long enough to reach a second anniversary.”