By Joseph Willits
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With the results of the Scottish Conservative party leadership elections expected later today, David Cameron has paid tribute to outgoing leader Annabel Goldie, and her contributions to both Scotland and the party.
“Annabel did a great job in her six years of leadership of the Scottish Conservatives. Throughout, I found her a complete pleasure to work with: straightforward, hardworking, passionate about her politics and packed full of common sense. I also really appreciated the strong support she gave me.
“Annabel has been a no nonsense breath of fresh air in Scottish politics, and I pay tribute to the way she fought the campaign for the Scottish Parliament. She will continue to be a formidable presence as an MSP and I know she will carry on fighting for causes close to her heart, like supporting families, tackling drug abuse and keeping Scotland in Britain”.
Yesterday was Goldie's last full day as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and her final "showdown" at Holyrood's First Minister’s Questions (FMQs). The Scotsman described Goldie's appearances at the "political joust" that is FMQs, as being "characterised by humorous and witty exchanges with her opponents – most notably with Alex Salmond". Goldie concluded her final FMQs with a word of advice to Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who was standing in for Salmond: “do not give up hope, dear”.
In a statement, Goldie said it had been a "great privilege to be the Scottish Conservative leader for the last six years". She said that despite "challenges and the occasional pothole in the road" it was "the honour of working with MSP colleagues and party members" that was most important.
Goldie said that the Scottish Conservatives have "made a real difference in Scotland", and spoke of the "great pleasure working with David Cameron" and Westminster colleagues. The "challenge" now, she said:
"is to fight Alex Salmond’s plan for separation and call his Government to account where they are failing to deliver what’s best for Scotland. I look forward to playing my part in fighting these battles and I am sure that my successor will be more than equal to taking that fight to Alex Salmond".
At present, Ruth Davidson seems to be viewed as the frontrunner, followed by Murdo Fraser. The other candidates are Jackson Carlaw and Margaret Mitchell. The first candidate to win 50% of the vote will be declared winner, but the transfer of votes from whoever drops out first will be crucial. According to the Scottish Herald, polls from yesterday are suggesting that turnout in the leadership election could be as low as 55% of 8500 party members in Scotland.