IT was during Ruth Davidson’s tenure as Scottish leader of her party that the concept of ‘de-toxifying’ the Tory brand became popular.

Hardly any published interview (and there were many) didn’t include this aphorism. As with much else about Ms Davidson, it was a mirage. She was deemed to have been a success as party leader because the Scottish Tories became the official opposition in Scotland, but still miles behind the SNP.

Ironically, this wasn’t built on any process of de-toxification or cleansing, but on a further poisoning of politics. In the usual regions it was built on the ancient tribal wars of culture and identity. Beyond this it amounted to little more than braying at the SNP to get on with the day job and telling anyone who would listen that an independence referendum was ‘nasty and divisive’. This was stretching the concept of ‘success’ to breaking point’.

That was about the extent of it. And then it was off to the House of Lords as a baroness fortified with a couple of PR emoluments and an absurdly large fee for agreeing to appear as an election pundit for ITV.

Ms Davidson and a host of other Tories have emerged in recent days to assist at the public burial of Boris Johnson. Detoxifying the brand is once more dominating the narrative. The main problem with this though, is that to successfully de-toxify something you must either make it purer or replace it with something more edifying.


To read the rest of this analysis, sign up to The Herald's political newsletter, Unspun, for FREE and get unrivalled political analysis in your inbox every day at 6pm.

Sign up here.