Nicola Sturgeon is better communicator than Boris Johnson, Scottish Conservative leader says

  • Watch the full interview with Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross

Perhaps we have become so accustomed to politicians avoiding the question - or answering a different question to the one that was actually asked. 

In an interview with the Scottish Conservatives leader, Douglas Ross, though, the MP was surprisingly and refreshingly honest. 

"I think most objective people would say [Nicola Sturgeon] is a more effective communicator than the Prime Minister," he said about the man who is effectively his boss.

When presented with the approval ratings in Scotland of both Boris Johnson (-57) and Nicola Sturgeon (+49), Ross was asked if the Prime Minister was harmful to the case for Scotland staying in the UK.

His reply was more blunt than expected: "We can’t say that the people of Scotland are absolutely wrong with their ratings on their various leaders so we’ve got to reflect on that and the Prime Minister reflects on it."

When asked to clarify if he was effectively saying what it sounded like he was saying - Boris Johnson is damaging the case for Scotland staying in the UK - Ross then doubled down. 

He said: "I’m not going to paint this more flowery than it is - you cannot get away from the current figures.

"But what you can do is you can look at them, you can address the issues behind them, and you can say to the people of Scotland that you take note of this, you take note of their concerns, you take note of the issues they’re raising."

He added: "Because if we don’t - if we just ignore it or say that’s not relevant or that we don’t believe it - the only people that win are the nationalists."

This is a Scottish Tory leader who wants to put daylight between his party and the UK party.

He knows 10 consecutive polls have put Scottish independence in the lead, and he is trying desperately to wake his fellow-Tories at Westminster from a malaise he believes is harming his ability to defeat the SNP. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attends First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland. Credit: PA

Douglas Ross is issuing a rallying cry to those who believe the United Kingdom is worth saving, but clearly he is frustrated that he often has to take on Nicola Sturgeon’s mighty machine in Scotland with his own UK party colleagues handing her a seemingly endless supply of ammunition.

In a full and frank interview, ITV News challenged Douglas Ross on the task at hand.

He criticises the way Brexit has been handled as a "winner takes all" event with little focus on reconciling a divided nation. 

He accepts a perception the UK Prime Minister has been too focused on England - in particular, the south of England - at times during the pandemic, and urges reflection from the government.

Borish Johnson speaks at press conference. Credit: PA Images

The strategy is a new one, clearly aimed at building credibility and respect with Scottish voters.

It will please many unionists who have expressed frustration with their Prime Minister, but it will also be seen as sacrilege by some for him to be taking the side of Nicola Sturgeon on any issue, never mind publicly scorning Boris Johnson.

Scottish elections are scheduled for May next year and with these bold answers Douglas Ross is evidently setting himself apart. 

But as the de facto leader of Scottish unionism, he also means what he says and hopes his warnings will not fall on deaf ears in London, because he genuinely fears the Tory party carrying on as they are will aid the SNP in their campaign to break up the United Kingdom.