Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

ANALYSIS: Jackson Carlaw’s resignation may have felt like a bolt from the blue but in reality the writing was on the wall

Jackson Carlaw before he resigned as Scottish Conservative leader.

Jackson Carlaw’s departure as Scottish Conservative leader felt like a complete surprise.

Barely three and a half hours after tearing into Nicola Sturgeon over her use of coronavirus statistics in a typically forthright and combative manner at Holyrood, he was gone.

The manner of his resignation – a statement out of the blue at 5pm on a Thursday – may have been unexpected. But when the wider political challenges he and his party are facing in Scotland are considered, perhaps the writing was on the wall.

Since he took over as leader from Ruth Davidson just six months ago, support for Scottish independence has risen steadily. A recent Panelbase poll suggested a record 54% for breaking up the UK.

Mr Carlaw’s failure to make much of an impact on the threat to the Union posed by the SNP was the over-riding factor behind his decision to quit.

In his statement, he came to the “painful conclusion” that he was not “the person best placed” to defend the UK.

In fairness to Mr Carlaw this is a problem faced not just by him, but by the Conservative Party at large. It was just last week that Boris Johnson made one of his flying visits to the north of Scotland to publicise the benefits of being in the United Kingdom.

Despite the UK Government pouring billions into protecting 900,000 Scottish jobs during the Covid-19 crisis, his trip failed to have the desired impact.

But in the few hours the prime minister spent on Scottish soil, he will have been briefed by Scottish Conservatives on what a parlous state the party finds itself in north of the border. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove will also have picked up mutterings about Mr Carlaw’s leadership when he headed to Scotland a few days later.

There will be speculation that Mr Johnson or Mr Gove had a hand in his departure. But reports last night suggested he had been confronted by Scottish Tories with internal polling suggesting he was not making an impact with the public.

Whatever the circumstances of his resignation, Mr Carlaw was struggling to step into the shoes of Ms Davidson.

Jackson Carlaw was unable to emulate Ruth Davidson’s success.

He lacked the cross-party appeal that enabled Ms Davidson to spark a long-awaited Scottish Tory revival. The big problem for the Conservatives is that just 10 months out from one of the most important elections in Scottish political history that revival is a dim and distant memory.

Scottish Labour may also be struggling in Scotland, but were it to pick up under Keir Starmer that would spell more problems for the Scottish Conservatives.

Given the current state of both Labour and Tories, the Union feels shakier than ever. And from the Conservatives point of view, something had to give.

The big question for the Scottish Tories, and also for Mr Johnson as “Minister for the Union”, is: can the party recover before Scotland goes to the polls next year? There simply does not seem to be enough time for yet another lengthy and divisive leadership contest. Therefore it is likely that someone will be parachuted into the hotseat. Some will yearn for the return of Ms Davidson. But that does not seem an option given her young family and her clashes with Mr Johnson on Brexit.

Within moments of Mr Carlaw’s statement, Douglas Ross, the Moray MP and well-known football referee, was being tipped by insiders for the job. Few would have predicted him becoming Scottish leader when he quit as a Scotland Office minister in protest at Dominic Cummings’ lockdown car journey.

Can Douglas Ross become the new Ruth Davidson?<br />Picture by Michal Wachucik/Abermedia.

But things have change rapidly and he is admired by his colleagues for his knack of getting under the SNP’s skin. He is said to have the support of key figures including Ms Davidson, who are seeking a seamless coronation. Unfortunately for the party, Mr Ross also happens to be a politician based at Westminster, which is hardly ideal for someone leading a Scottish party and leaves him vulnerable to SNP attacks. Such obstacles have been overcome in the past. But the political reality is that whoever steps into Mr Carlaw’s shoes faces an almighty task.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]