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Front to back.

Betsan Powys | 11:32 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

Last week Andrew R T Davies was out defending the Conservative policy of ring-fencing health spending. He was robust, on the offensive - as per his usual style. But around corners there were colleagues shaking their heads and suggesting that "Andrew doesn't do detail."

The whispers got louder after a post-Budget interview on Good Morning Wales when the Tory Health spokesman gave his interpretation of what ring-fencing meant .... RPI inflation PLUS the GDP deflator. Erm - not the party's official policy (which is RPI inflation only), and a ruinously expensive pledge. What did we say, said his critics. Andrew doesn't do detail.

On Friday there was a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle that saw Jonathan Morgan, the former health spokesman, return to front bench duties. He's also taking the chair of the Health Committee. Tanks, lawn anyone?

On Saturday Nick Bourne tweeted that he was dealing with "a Labour infiltrator". It turns out he was referring to an intern who'd been working in the office of Andrew R T Davies. Slight embarrassment that a Labour supporter had ended up working for a Tory frontbencher - but that was it.

On Sunday a text arrived (while I was in chapel ... hiding the Blackberry in the hymn book best I could) suggesting all was not well in the Welsh Conservative camp.

This morning Andrew R T Davies has resigned. The man who beat David Melding into second place in the race to top the South Wales Central list, the man touted by many within his own group as a possible future leader has walked out of the health job and the shadow cabinet.

Here's his statement:

"I gave this indication to Nick Bourne on Saturday and it is something that I have considered for some time now. With the changes being made to the front bench team, I feel that now would be an opportune moment to make this move as it would allow any subsequent changes to be made with minimal disruption."

"I look forward to playing a full and productive role from the back benches, articulating the concerns and interests of the people of South Wales Central. I remain fully committed, as ever, to the Welsh Conservative Party and its policies and I shall continue to work tirelessly to develop a strong Conservative voice for the people of Wales."

A fit of pique? Or a man who is no fool, who senses his leader's days are numbered and is making the very, very risky calculation that distancing himself from him now will allow him, one day, to replace him?

Nick Ramsay takes over the Health brief while Nick Bourne takes over Finance. Here's his statement:

"Andrew has been a highly respected and hardworking member of the Shadow Cabinet and his decision came as surprise to the team.

"These changes, together with those announced last week, will ensure that the Welsh Conservatives continue to be the only effective opposition to the Labour-Plaid Assembly Government."

Mr Davies - a "hugely ambitious" man as one voice in the Labour camp just put it - has left some of his colleagues "gobsmacked" and left the Cardiff Bay bubble for the Winter Fair in Builth Wells.


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