Lesbian MSP Ruth Davidson has launched her bid to lead the Scottish Conservative Party.

The 32-year-old was only elected in May but is tipped to win the leadership contest.

A former BBC journalist, she is said to be Tory leader David Cameron’s preferred choice for the job and has been praised for her “charisma”.

She is the first openly gay candidate to stand for the party leadership.

Another contender, MSP Murdo Fraser, has revealed he plans to split the party from the UK Conservatives and create a new right-of-centre Scottish party if elected.

But Ms Davidson said yesterday she had “no interest in change for its own sake”.

Launching her leadership bid in Edinburgh, she revealed she hopes to place the Tories in a “major party” of a Scottish coalition government in ten years.

She said: “Real change will come when the party unites behind a dynamic, modern leader. I will be that leader. Under my leadership, there will be no existential crisis, no wringing of hands.”

The Glasgow MSP added: “I want people proud to call themselves Scottish, Conservative and Unionist, as I am proud.”

She is presenting herself as the only one of the Conservative candidates who can appeal to Scottish voters, a demographic deeply mistrustful of the party since Margaret Thatcher’s days in power. The third candidate, Jackson Carlaw, is seen as more right-wing.

Ms Davidson said: “There’s not just one but two generations of voters after me who have no knowledge of Margaret Thatcher … Scotland has moved on. The Scottish Conservative party has moved on.”

If Ms Davidson wins the election, she will become the first openly gay leader of a mainstream political party in the United Kingdom.