THE holiday destinations of our politicians have lately become a source of cheap news for media outlets as they enter the year’s fallow stretch. SNP politicians dare not venture out of Scotland lest they be subject to a Unionist onslaught about failing to support our indigenous tourist economy.

How dare you embark on an all-inclusive cruise around the Norwegian fjords? Is a CalMac island hop in the middle of the west of Scotland’s traditional monsoon season now beneath you?

In the past though, this didn’t stop Labour politicians who simply claimed they were on fact-finding missions they deemed as crucial in their sacred mission of alleviating poverty and fighting for the workers. Thus an all-expenses-paid junket to Machu Picchu, the ancient Peruvian mountain citadel, could be explained away in a number of ways. The Labour folk might claim that the innovative building techniques of the Incas might be an invaluable resource when discussing the value of housing contracts with their favourite construction firms over lunch at Rogano.

Perhaps jouking about Bangkok in rickshaws gave them an insight into the gig economy of Taiwan. Indeed the successful transition of this charming and rudimentary mode of transport on to the streets of Glasgow has been a feature in the transformation of the city’s recent tourist offering.

Scottish Tory politicians are normally considered to be immune from any criticism of their vacation choices. Having spent most of the year telling people that Scotland is effectively a third-world country not fit for human habitation it would seem hypocritical if any of them chose to take a holiday here. They couldn’t even claim to be stimulating the Scottish economy if they actually did opt for a fortnight in the Highlands and Islands. For, if they actually did care about Scotland’s economy they wouldn’t be so quick to defend the offshore tax arrangements of the corporations from which their party draws most of its financial support.

Indeed such has been the indolence of the new Scottish Conservative contingent at Westminster that they really ought to be spending the summer parliamentary recess doing unpaid work in the community. If they don’t then they face the prospect of a five-year gap in that part of their CVs where they need to put down their work history.

As our elected representatives now look forward to their generous summer breaks, the arrangements of Ruth Davidson may prove interesting. Davidson has won the admiration of many people by throwing herself with some considerable gusto into an enhanced role with the Territorial Army.

Leading the Tory contingent at Holyrood is right up there with being a hairdresser in a Tibetan monastery in that list of the world’s least onerous jobs. So I’m delighted she has decided to set a good example to the nation by filling up the rest of her week in such a selfless and devoted fashion by dedicating herself to the virtual defence of the realm.

The last parliamentary term has been even less taxing than usual for the defatigable Davidson. Not even her most adoring sycophants in the right-wing press can claim that much of it has been spent in working out an electoral blueprint for the future of Scotland.

How much midnight oil was burnt dreaming up a political strategy that consisted solely of deploying the phrase “second referendum” in close proximity to the words “nasty” and “divisive” as often as possible? And how much serious work is involved in merely endorsing everything that is decided in London?

Davidson’s approach to political leadership reminds me of the wily old Soviet Union Foreign Minister, Andrei Gromyko who was lampooned by unkind western diplomats for his frequent deployment of “nyet” during meetings of the UN Security Council. At the end of Theresa May’s Cabinet meetings they come to discuss Scotland after first deciding whose turn it is to administer the Twitter account of Larry the Downing Street cat. This is Davidson’s moment.

“Have you anything to say about the situation in Scotland, Ruth?”


“Is there anything we’ve discussed here that might affect Scotland, Ruth?”


“Anything you want to say about that bung for the DUP, Ruth?”


I feel also that I must distance myself from the beastly behaviour of all those leftie and liberal types who have been unkind to the Scottish Tory leader after she was appointed honorary colonel in the Territorial Army. Now all those staged pictures of Davidson astride assorted pieces of military hardware begin to make sense: it was all about gaining her proficiency certificate for the Territorials.

A lot of people are very cynical about the TAs and what they actually do. This country has been happily at peace for more than 70 years now and, despite the best efforts of the Brexiteers, that’s the way we all want it to remain. But what if the balloon goes up and the chips go down and the lights go out? What then? We’d all need to familiarise ourselves with what a soldier’s uniform looks like. So it’s quite reassuring to know that our intrepid Territorial Army personnel are jouking about the hills at the weekend practicing how to wear battle fatigues and cooking outside when it’s raining.

Others might be cynical and dismissive that gaining proficiency on Call of Duty WWII on your Playstation machine doesn’t actually make you a soldier, but what do they know? Not having any expertise in leading real people has never been considered a disadvantage in gaining command positions in Her Majesty’s British armed forces. So, I sincerely hope that Davidson will be spending some of her summer break up the Campsie Hills somewhere on TA manoeuvres, keeping everyone’s peckers up and being cheerful.

Being a solid working class woman who has never enjoyed any privileges whatsoever Davidson will be entirely familiar with the oeuvre of Billy Connolly. Like me I feel that she might just be a fan of the Big Yin’s early work, including his thoughtful and moving homage to the Territorials in a song called Weekend Soldier.

I am a weekend soldier
And the world is scared of me
I’ve fought a million battles
And I’m always home in time for tea

I like to think it was this chorus that helped to inspire her in her future career choices. Huzzah!