Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

You Couldn't Make Her Up: The Conservative Candidate in Glasgow East Is Perfect for Dave's New, Inclusive Party

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

You Couldn't Make Her Up: The Conservative Candidate in Glasgow East Is Perfect for Dave's New, Inclusive Party

Article excerpt

With Boris's mayoral team having a rough ride, what better time for David Cameron to flee metropolitan London, hit the Glasgow by-election trail and tell a roomful of Scots to lay off the cakes?

There are a few unlikely Tories around now that things are on the up, but the Glasgow East Conservative candidate, Davena Rankin, is almost implausible. Glaswegian-born and bred, she describes herself as "half Scottish, half Caribbean". Mother to a five-year-old, she works at Glasgow Caledonian University and is a branch secretary for Unison.

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She grew up in Drumchapel, a rough area known locally as "The Drum", and claims there was no bolt of lightning when she realised that she was a Conservative. (She should get herself an epiphany moment.) Asked about her political beliefs, she uses lots of boring words that young people put in job application forms, such as "facilitate", "develop" and "enterprise".

Old-school Tories will be relieved that Rankin has not been parachuted in because of her sex or colour. She has certainly handed over her pound of flesh to the party. She stood as a candidate for Glasgow Kelvin in the 2001 general election, which was a baptism of fire. "My very first hustings was with George Galloway on asylum," she says. "I was so nervous, a friend had to take me away for a cup of tea."

A ballsy girl, she has also shared a stage with the angry socialist Tommy Sheridan, who is so tough that he has fought two elections in prison. In 2003 she stood in the local government elections for the South Side of Glasgow, another exhausting, pavement-pounding, probably soulless process.

Selected only at the beginning of the month, Rankin is quite laid-back. When we spoke she was feeling very moved because a local florist had just sent her a huge bunch of flowers. …

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