Ruth Davidson MSP has been elected as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. Her election makes her the first openly lesbian or gay leader of a major British political party.

Ms Davidson was only elected as a member of the Scottish Parliament earlier this year and succeeds Annabel Goldie as the leader of the third largest party in the parliament.

In her victory speech, Ms Davidson said that the Tories in Scotland were still alive and kicking”.

She added: “Annabel [Goldie] has been a fantastic leader of the MSP group and we all owe her a great debt for her service and for her hard work over a number of years.

“But this is the first time that our members have been asked to elect a leader for the whole party in Scotland and I’ve met our members from Selkirk to Shetland and all points in between.

“They’ve been engaged, they’ve been enthusiastic, they’ve been welcoming and they’re excited about our bright future too.

“A political party is not a leader, a political party is its membership and I want to bring our members at all levels much closer together in our party going forward and to take our party forward in unity.”

Following the result, British prime minister David Cameron said: “I am delighted to congratulate Ruth on winning this leadership election and look forward to working with her to strengthen the Union and build a better future for Scotland.”

Ms Davidson presented herself as the only one of the Conservative candidates who could appeal to Scottish voters, a demographic deeply mistrustful of the party since Margaret Thatcher’s days in power.