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Come fly with me

Betsan Powys | 17:01 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2007

"Welsh Conservatives, New Opportunities: Fringe Meeting this way" said the one sign. "Crowd surfers will be ejected from the premises" said the other, somewhat redundantly as it turned out.

They came in dribs and drabs, not best pleased at having to miss the best bits of Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne's speech, in other words the bits they think might give them any chance whatsoever of winning something if Gordon Brown puts us all out of our misery and calls an election.

Nick Bourne eyed the empty seats and did his best. He is, after all, a more influential figure of the right than John Redwood, Norman Tebbit or - er - Samanthan Cameron if this must-read list is to be believed. He is a man who is "not afraid to speak his mind" and looks at least ten years younger than his ranking in the photograph the Telegraph subs have dug up.

He had a go at Rhodri Morgan: "Wales is drowning in your clear red water!" He had a go at "this cobbled-together alliance" or the 'One Wales Government' as he's taken to calling it. He even had a go at his own party back then when he wasn't in charge. "In 1999 we were unelectable". I'm told later this wasn't 'just' a dig at Rod Richards but an admission that back then, the Welsh Conservatives had no idea how to campaign, no idea how to put together a decent manifesto. And yes, before you ask, their manifesto is now ready to go - just in case Gordon Brown is too.

But the big attack was on Plaid Cymru.

"I find it extraordinary that Plaid were unwilling to stand up and be counted and take a lead in Government ... In so doing Plaid has given up any right it had to call itself the party of Wales".

I made out a few muttered 'hear hears' from the back.

"They have only one foot under the government table" it said in the script. That, somehow, became "half a foot". He was losing them. Crowd surfing anyone?

But then came the bleeps and the vibrations of the Blackberries. George Osborne had spoken in another part of the Winter Gardens and the mood, suddenly, lifted.

No stamp duty on houses up to £250,000. The inheritance tax threshold raised from £300,000 to £1 million. Alun Cairns smiled broadly as he scrolled through the headline pledges. That must be worth a few votes in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Do they want an election? No. A few who nearly won their seats back in May's Assembly Election are keen to go for it. For them, recognition is all and the wind is in their sails. But they know they're in a minority. "We're tired", "we're not ready on the ground" II'm told over and again. They think Gordon Brown will be exposed as time goes by. They think calling an unnecessary election is a waste of money. They think they'll lose.

Do they think he'll call an election? Cheryl Gillan pauses: "If I were Gordon Brown, I would". Aha. "But we will win of course" she adds, reminding me somehow of a poet who was once asked whether he believed in fairies. "Of course not" he said. "But they do exist".

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:23 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Osian wrote:

HAH. This really made me laugh. Why would Plaid Cymru members defect to the Tories when the Tories stand for everything Plaid doesn't e.g. tories don't want an assembly or a parliment in Wales, Plaid Cymru wants in the end full independence and membership of the EU and the UN. Laughable. He's trying to make it seem as if people in Plaid are ready to disaffect. His principles are wrong and the way he's trying to impose them is laughable.

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