Friday, 15 July 2011

Conservative leaders

The Fifth leader of the Conservative group in the National Assembly has just been elected. Andrew RT Davies is the latest in a line that started with Rod Richards, known as the Welsh Rottweiler. He stood down to fight a court case but nominated David Davies as his successor.

The reign of Davies lasted all of a morning, until his own group tufted him out. They favoured the patrician Professor Nick Bourne rather than Davies with his right of Genghis Khan brand of politics.

David Davies having reached such a career high in the Assembly could never hope to attain such an honour again so went to plough his trade as a minor courtier in the Palace of Westminster.  Rumour has it that he now chairs the Welsh Select committee.

Bourne wrapped the Welsh flag around his party and in a series of spectacular U turns, the Conservative and Unionist Party was turned into the cuddly, pro-devolutionist Welsh Conservatives.

Such was his success that he managed to push his party’s share of the vote up and overtook Plaid Cymru to become the Official Opposition. For him personally not the best of career moves. His party won too many seats in constituencies at the last Assembly election; consequently he lost his seat on the list. Those with an interest may observe him shortly visiting either the job centre or the House of Lords.

Answering the call to duty was the unassuming Assembly Member for Preseli Pembs, Paul Davies. He became the temporary leader of the party, pending an election contest.

The boy did good. Causing some in the party to regret having a contest at all. Why, they reasoned embrace these new fangled innovations such as elections, when they’d found such a good leader without the bother.

Alas, election there was, and Andrew Davies won by a whisker.Only half the Conservatives bothered to vote out of a 5000 or so members of the party in Wales. Of these the victor squeaked 53 per cent of the vote, on my sums about 150 votes.

On this basis Davies must feel a slight discomfort. It’s hardly a comfort knowing that three-quarters of your party refused to vote for you.

The counting of the 2500 votes cast started at nine a.m. and finished just before three.  Why it took so long remains a mystery. Recounts, maybe.

But it caused the new leader to start his reign with a touch of irony. He thanked the officials for the fair and efficient way they conducted the count. Fair it might have been, efficient…. a room full of hungry hacks would certainly disagree. Six hours to count 2500 pieces of paper. Those that worry about standards of numeracy in Wales have a point.

And what can we expect from the new Leader of the Opposition. Forget the Bourne project of “Welshifying” the party, his emphasis is much more on Unionism. He is seen to be very much to the right of his party and it will be interesting to see the dynamics of the group he now leads. How will he deal with the serial ’bleeding’ heart liberals on his benches.

Well, what are his ambition  for his party? To ”reach out to the people of Wales.” Not the most original utterance from a politician, me thinks, a little more substance required soon, Mr Davies.


  1. I understand there were no recounts

    I can support you entirely on the hunger factor - I lost a stone in sweat and wasting for all those hours...

  2. John Broughton15 July 2011 at 16:48

    Gareth: Bourne may have become a "cuddly pro-devolutionist" but he never took the party with him. Overall the May outcome was probably the best possible outcome for Conservatives in Wales. All being well Andrew will help the Assembly group rediscover Conservatism.

  3. Rather agree with JB above, the Conservatives prospered despite Nick Bourne rather than because of him.

    First action that needs undertaking is a name change to Conservative Party of Wales.

    Second action is to sort the waste.

  4. I suspect the issue may have been disputes over several individuals eligibility to vote. The count off itself in a 2 candidate election is obviously a breeze ...

  5. But Andrew RT isnt the Conservative Leader ,thats Cameron. ARTD is leader of the conservative group in the Assembly,thats a significant difference