FOR a City of London PR firm that can pay someone £50,000 for working 24 days a year, and for someone who thinks they’re worth it, Tulchan Communications and Ruth Davidson don’t seem terribly good at this public relations lark.

The announcement of Ms Davidson’s new gig this week has been bungled from all angles. Gone is the working mum and Boris-sceptic who got a degree of sympathy after standing down as Scottish Tory leader in August.

That image has been replaced by a brazen corporate lobbyist mooching her way to the 2021 election while tapping taxpayers £63,579 a year as a part-time MSP for Edinburgh Central.

She has been accused of making a “monumental misjudgment”, of holding constituents “in contempt”, of bringing the Parliament into disrepute, and of having a glaring conflict of interest in helping to shape the law while also helping Tulchan’s extensive client list.

Laughably, Ms Davidson’s only role at Holyrood, other than constituency MSP, is sitting on the management body and leading on good governance.

Every party at Holyrood bar the Tories has called for her to stand down as an MSP, and even a lobbying industry body has said it is unethical for a lobbyist to employ a serving politician.

And all this about someone who used to tell Nicola Sturgeon to “get on with the day job”. Great PR, guys. Aced it.

There is more than whiff of hypocrisy about this, of course. According to the Commons register of MPs’ interests, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford gets paid the same as Ms Davidson for a third of the work on his second jobs.

The latest edition, which came out this week, shows the former financier turned “humble crofter” trousers £3,193 a month as chairman of funeral planner Golden Charter Trust Ltd, for eight hours per quarter. He gets another £1000 a month as chair of Commsworld Plc, again for eight hours per quarter.

In other words, Mr Blackford gets more than £50,300 a year for 64 hours of desk-breaking toil on top of his £79,468 basic as the MP for Skye. Oh, and if he does any more for Golden Charter he gets an extra £1500 per day.

Ms Davidson could learn a thing or two from that one, I reckon.

For now, though, she and her chums deserve all the grief that’s coming to them over this shabby mess.

One of Holyrood’s founding principles is transparency.

When Ms Davidson recently took up an unpaid role on mental health, it was announced in a detailed four-page statement from the Scottish Tories.

But when Ms Davidson took on her lucrative number with Tulchan, an old pals act in London got the word out, with little apparent thought to how it would play at home.

Ms Davidson gave an interview in Tulchan’s Fleet Street office to the Evening Standard (editor George Osborne), which made clear it she owed the position to her “connection” to Andrew Feldman, the former Tory party fundraiser who is now Tulchan’s MD.

She said she would not be doing any lobbying or talking to ministers, but would help clients by “letting them know what government thinking is”.

That interview, rather than any statement by the party or entry in the Holyrood register of interests, was then picked up by the Scottish media.

Tulchan said Ms Davidson would join the firm as a “senior advisor”.

The Herald then discovered Ms Davidson and her partner Jen Wilson had set up a tax-efficient business consultancy, Kirkholm Broadlands Ltd, more than a week earlier.

Again, this was not volunteered by Ms Davidson when she had the chance.

The code of conduct for MSPs is quite broad on what is forbidden.

MSPs “should not accept any paid work which would involve them lobbying on behalf of any person or any clients of a person or organisation”.

Ms Davidson says she’s not actually a lobbyist, she just works for one. It’s not very convincing, but if she avoids the above, she will be within the rules.

However the code also says MSPs should “not accept any paid work to provide services as a Parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant, for example, advising on Parliamentary affairs or how to influence the Parliament or its members”.

It is hard to see how Ms Davidson can avoid straying into such territory.

But the killer section is where the code says MSPs must not take part in any events where the organisers charge people for preferential access to them.

There must be no “better access to, or treatment by MSPs, than would be accorded to any other person or organisation”. Yet Ms Davidson is being paid £50,000 to be part of Tulchan’s offering to paying clients.

If clients meet her because they have ponied up to Tulchan, how can that not be construed as buying preferential access to an MSP? Ms Davidson always has her MSP’s hat on, after all.

The obvious way round the problem is to take it off and resign.

The Scottish Tory press operation is now having to pick up the pieces.

It insists Ms Davidson sat down with Holyrood officials before accepting the nrew role and went through the code of conduct in detail. “The role involves no lobbying or parliamentary strategic advise and falls well inside Holyrood’s rules,” a spokesman said. However Ms Davidson’s position feels precarious.

It is understandable that she is teeing up a new life outside Holyrood. There are few things as ex- as an ex-politician, and many find it hard to readjust.

But she and her mates have botched it. The nature of her new work was always going to be controversial. Care was needed. Instead, there was a cack-handed reveal and a drip-drip of further twists. It’s the sort of salutary lesson they teach on public relations courses.

The SNP should be careful what it wishes for however. If Ms Davidson stepped down in Edinburgh Central, the SNP would almost certainly retake the seat and edge closer to a majority in Holyrood, something that is doubtless a factor in her desire to stay on.

But a byelection would also be an inglorious bunfight, with pro-Sturgeon and pro-Salmond camps slugging it out in a proxy war for the SNP candidacy.

Former Westminster leader Angus Robertson, one of Ms Sturgeon’s close allies, has already expressed an interest.

But the real fun could start if a byelection smokes out MP Joanna Cherry QC. If she is minded to become SNP leader, being MSP for Edinburgh Central would be a fine place to start. She certainly wouldn’t want Mr Robertson nabbing it and settling in.

So although Ms Davidson may not relish resignation, she could yet have fun on the way out the door, lobbing a stinkbomb in the SNP’s direction.