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Charming and cutting: Newcomer breaks the mould

RUTH Davidson is infectious: not bubbly or frothy or lightweight, but a woman with a serious sense about her and a clear belief that no challenge is beyond her.

But it was her communication skills which Annabel Goldie recognised, seeing the talents offered by the former BBC journalist and hiring her as an aide.

However, it is not hard to see why some could resent Ms Davidson’s meteoric rise in the party. While others have quarried away fighting hopeless corners and holding down arcane party posts, Ms Davidson has become leader after just three years in the party.

At just 32, she can be personable but can also be quite aggressive, sparky and cutting, as she was in her dealings with opponents during the leadership campaign, qualities she will now need in the Holyrood chamber.

She can also show a vulnerable side, as she did when telling The Herald about the time she was almost paralysed during a Territorial Army training exercise, and talked openly about living in a same-sex relationship with her partner in the west end of Glasgow.

She was elected to Holyrood in May this year, just days before Annabel Goldie announced she would step down as party leader. She only joined the Tory party shortly before she fought the Glasgow North East Westminster by-election in 2009.

She said she had been inspired by David Cameron’s call, in the wake of the expenses scandal, for people who had never been involved in politics to put themselves forward. She spent much of last year working for Miss Goldie as head of the leader’s office, and praised the “integrity, commitment and good humour” of the woman she will now succeed.

Although a newcomer to the party, her bid to lead the Scottish Tories attracted the support of some senior party members. Ms Davidson was endorsed by leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde; former deputy chairman of the UK Conservative party Michael Ancram; former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth; and Scotland Office minister David Mundell, among others.

Before entering politics Ms Davidson was “proud to serve Queen and country” in the Territorial Army but had to leave when she broke her back diving through a window in a training exercise at Sandhurst.

She is a member of the Church of Scotland and has volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, while her hobbies include kickboxing and following the Scotland football team.

She lives with her partner Saskia Halcrow, who works for the Royal Bank of Scotland, votes Green and is a vegetarian.

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