'I'll never say I am not talking about religion' says MSP

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said she would never shy away from talking about her Christian faith and the positive impact the Kirk has on society.

Ruth Davidson said she did not share the view of advisers to former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair who told him not to talk about his beliefs in public.

She added that people in the public eye should be “honest” about the different components that make up their lives.

Wardie Parish Church
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson with members of Edinburgh Presbyterial Council.

Miss Davidson made the remarks during a talk to the Edinburgh Presbyterial Council of the Church of Scotland Guild at Wardie Parish Church today.

The politician, who represents Edinburgh Central, was invited to speak as part of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office’s Meet Your MSP project, which connects congregations to parliamentarians from all parties.

Force for good

Miss Davidson, a Kirk member and former Sunday school teacher, said: “I think it is important that you don’t write God out of the narrative of public life.

“Tony Blair famously said ‘we don’t do God’ but I actually think why not?

“I think there is an importance for people who are in the public eye, whether they are politicians, sports stars, singers, actors or whatever, to be honest about what makes up different parts of their life.

“Part of the difficulties that organised faith and religion have had is it is something we are not supposed to talk about, it is something we keep quiet about.

“But I think that is wrong because the Church of Scotland and other churches are a force for good in the world.”

Ruth Davidson
Ruth Davidson

Miss Davidson, who did not speak from notes, acknowledged charitable giving and pastoral care provided to people in need.

She said church people extend the hand of friendship and play a huge part in helping to break down the barriers of social isolation – one of the biggest issues facing Scotland.

Miss Davidson said: “So quite apart from the personal faith and belief, the community good that churches do is important which is why I never say I am not talking about religion and what part it plays in my life.”

Life changing

The MSP said she was very impressed by the work carried out by Guild members, who have spent the last three years raising money for six very distinct charities that support people at home and abroad.

“The reason I was so keen to speak to you is because of the work that you do,” said the former broadcast journalist.

“I want to thank you for the work that the Guild does, on very little money, to raise so much to help other people.

“The six charities that you support, tackling everything from Female Genital Mutilation to education, helps so many people.

“You deserve to be thanked by people who don’t often stand up and do it.”

Ruth Davidson Guild
Ruth Davidson and Jeanette McIvor, convener of Edinburgh Presbyterial Council of the Guild.

Miss Davidson, who spoke about her personal life and the road that led her to the Scottish Parliament, said she had the highest regard for volunteers.

“I am looking at people who give up of their time to the Guild and I know about 90% of you will have least one other thing that you do,” she added.

“So if you want something done, ask a busy person because it is the same people that make the city go round.

“When you see politicians shouting things at each other, remember there is a still a healthy level of personal respect there.

“Remember that we all have lives outside of our work and care about the same things you care about.”

From the heart

Miss Davidson was presented with a Guild tartan scarf as a gift.

Jeanette McIvor, convener of Edinburgh Presbyterial Council of the Guild, said Miss Davidson “spoke very well from the heart”

“It is great that Ruth is so supportive of the work the Guild does and recognises its impact on people at home and abroad,” she added.

“In addition to the charities we support, we also do a lot of outreach work through the church’s social care arm, CrossReach, and Christian Aid.”