Brits don’t have to endure the kind of wall-to-wall political commercials that Americans are subjected to during election season. Political advertising is barred, in fact. The rough U.K. equivalent are “party political broadcasts,” short films produced by the parties that air, free of charge, on the terrestrial TV channels.
Today, the Scottish Conservative Party revealed a new spot, and it is fascinating. The film features party leader Ruth Davidson challenging “myths” about the Conservative Party. Davidson is a living challenge to Tory stereotypes—her parents both grew up in public housing in tough parts of Glasgow, and she went to a local school, which, she says, “was pretty close to the bottom” of the school rankings. Oh, yes, and she’s a lesbian. The spot shows her walking and talking with her girlfriend, Jen Wilson; the couple enjoying a drink together in the pub; and hiking and taking selfies with Davidson’s parents. Although Davidson doesn’t explicitly mention her girlfriend, she does appeal to voters who are “unashamed and unembarrassed to believe in family and country.”
The Conservative Party is as popular in Scotland as Republicans are on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. When discussing the party’s chances in the British general election scheduled for May 7, talk tends to focus on whether the Tories can hold onto their sole MP among Scotland’s 59 parliamentary seats. Even in the Scottish Parliament, which is more friendly to minority parties, thanks to its use of proportional representation, the Conservatives control just 15 of the 129 seats. One broadcast can’t transform a party’s chances, but I confess, Ruth Davidson’s down-to-earth self-presentation has me charmed.