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Holding the reins

Betsan Powys | 13:33 UK time, Saturday, 7 May 2011

The leader is gone. Long live the interim leader.

The new Conservative group of Assembly Members met with the party management board this morning to start the process of finding a new leader - one that starts with finding someone to hold the fort in the meantime.

The only candidate for that job, I gather, was Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies. There were no dissenting voices. His job will be to bring a bit of stability to a group that finds itself in good shape - the official opposition - boosted in number but minus a boss. The race to succeed Nick Bourne will kick off on May 11th and end on July 14th.

Now for the bit that will make one group member in particular sit up. I'm told that Paul Davies' candidacy for the interim leadership was "the product of progressive forces within the Welsh Conservatives working together".

A sign of things to come, of the direction those forces want things to go, said the same voice. I'm sure Andrew R T Davies will be listening, girding his loins and preparing for a right old fight.

Intriguingly, however many candidates throw their hats into the ring, only two will be put in front of the party membership for their approval.

Should there be more than two nominations, the Tory group in the Assembly will meet on May 25th to whittle the contenders down to the final pair. So no repeat of the three way battle as we saw between Carwyn Jones, Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis back in 2009.


  • Comment number 1.

    On the subject of leaders seemingly 'gone missing' Plaid's leader (?) seems to have disappeared.

    Could a saddened Ieaun Wyn-Jones be considering his future in the peace and quiet of his French holiday home?

    As Mr. Fawlty said...."Bon appetit" !

  • Comment number 2.

    I saw him on television last night.

    Where is Kirsty

    Where is Carwyn.

    More important where's Nick.

    Must be in the same place, well except Nick.

  • Comment number 3.

    2. alfsplace1986

    Kirsty was on the news last night, as was Carwyn.

    Regarding Nick's whereabouts - who cares?

    To get to the topic: I don't think I'm familiar with any of the AMs in contention here. I fear I will have to wait until the winner is chosen and then find out what they're like.

    Does anyone feel inclined to give us a quick summary of who they are and what they are for?

  • Comment number 4.

    Well spotted Alf.

    Quite possible you did see our Ieaun on TV last night.

    But why didn't you admit that he was wearing a beret and espadrilles, riding a bike-load of French rolls out of his local Hyper-U, and on his way to a few rounds of petanque. He was also whistling the Marseillaise and looked like a man without a care in the world......

    Speaks volumes I'd say !....(wink)

    Oh yes. And did I mention his "France loves James Hook" T-shirt.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    In my opinion Angela Burns would be the stand out competitor in a race for the Welsh tory leadership. Twice she has been the underdog in the Carm W & S Pemb seat and twice she has won.
    She's not frightened of pushing an idea and being a little controversial which leaders need. Paul Davies is not a bad fella but he's far too sensible and not dynamic enough to be leader in the modern theatre of politics.

  • Comment number 7.

    Agree - Angela Burns is a strong contender, I understand she is well respected and certainly has ability and personality.

    Paul Davis is probably the only Tory AM fully fluent in Welsh - he has also put in a lot of work for the Language and is a strong supporter of the new Language Act.

  • Comment number 8.

    Sorry I shouldn't have done my reply to comment 4 in French.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's true Angela Burns is sensible and has personality but she is also in favour of more powers and autonomy for the Welsh Assembly which is perhaps out of sync with her core voters. They, like may contributors to this blog, tend to be English expatriates or Welsh knee-benders terrified of Wales taking more responsibility for its own affairs. Given the dominance of the flinchers and sneerers in Welsh politics I can predict that Ms Burns has identically no chance of leading the Welsh Conservatives.

  • Comment number 10.

    Fascinating trending going on for mrs burns.

    I agree and have said elsewhere on betsan's blog she is an excellent and principled AM.

    Angry at 9 should be aware she appears to have little time for petty politics or tribal differences. I find she speaks sense on business and brings the sort of talent we need in Wales minus the angry partisanship of which we're so often guilty.

    Does she have the political experience however...?

  • Comment number 11.

    #9 ...

    ... so contributors who do not agree with your view of Wales politics are either :

    1. English expatriates
    2. Welsh knee-benders
    3. flinchers, I presume you mean flincher's
    4. sneerers, I presume you mean sneerer's

    ... it is time to realise that the electorate have started to put the Plaid Cymru nationalist genie back into its bottle, and not before time. Your view of Wales is hubris, a failed ambition.

    Whatever you might predict concerning the Conservative leadership selection is irrelevant; participation is restricted to the membership alone,fortunately.

  • Comment number 12.

    9. Your attitude sums up why most people cannot stomach the self righteous attitudes of PC and welsh nationalism in its widest sense. I suppose it is still permissable to be totally "sceptical" about welsh devolution,however I wonder how long we will have freedom if the NATS get into total power!!. With regard to Angela Burns she does seem very "sensible",and plainly her electorate seem pretty supportive and therefore has good credentials as she is a directly elected AM,and not one of the "mickey mouse" one's. I voted against the creation of Assembly,and "more powers",as I do not accept that such a structure is best way of providing good quality services,and value for money for hard working taxpayers. We are however where we are and its going to take some years to see if the Assembly can radically improve level of services to people,and in particular devise an education/health structure that meets modern demands. looking at the intake to Labour AM's,most of them have extensive background in local authorities and are therefore totally linked into that area of welsh civic society. In all honesty I cannot see them taking the "knife" to the structures involved in provision of services,and also the "sacred cows",i.e education tables etc etc which will tell welsh people what actually going on in welsh life. It is hoped that with the demise of PC,and god forbid they ever get their hands of "power" the welshification process can get into reverse and concentrate on real world ,like teaching pupils in english to enable them to get a job "over the border" as so beloved by BBC CYMRU.

  • Comment number 13.


    I think she has every chance of leading the Welsh Tories. The most able geezers they had were not re-elected (Bourne and J Morgan). RT Davies would not be so electable. Farming is likely to be brought under more Free Market Conditions if the new govt get it's way and all the Grant Feeding may be lessened and you may see a genuine free market economy emerge in rural Wales. Farmers will stamp there feet and shout for there handouts and RT Davies will support them. So RTD is a no no as this will lessen the larger urban vote for the Welsh Tories.
    Other possible candidate is Darren Millar.

  • Comment number 14.

    The problem for Angela Burns is that she represents a seat that is still a 3 way marginal. What ever her other qualities that makes it a bit sticky.

    I will not minimise the loss of seats and votes to Plaid, clearly not good, but not quite the disaster depicted by some. The luckiest party were the Lib Dems who saw the biggest fall of the vote, and the largest gainers were Labour who increased their vote and got half the seats (on less than half the votes).

    All parties face difficult choices. Labour have recovered from the previous election by fighting a UK election and largely avoiding Welsh issues. It worked with the electorate which is predominantly left of centre and fearful of cuts and the job losses that it will cause.

  • Comment number 15.

    #14 ... of course it is not a disaster, it is the most wonderful news for the peoples of Wales, Plaid going down the drains is a tinkling sound that bodes well for the future.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm new to Welsh politics, having never taken an interest before, but the venom I've seen spewed out from the anti-Plaid Cymru/anti-Welsh language/anti-Wales groups is shocking.

    But not as shocking as the misuse of apostrophes. Especially from those attempting to correct others.

  • Comment number 17.

    No misuse of apostrophes Nic, and the venom you so describe has been well earned by the divisive Plaid Cymru, your perception of anti- language/Wales is so very wrong, the issues of language relates to nation building in an attempt to create a division along Offa's Dyke, it has failed, see the recent Act, and this concept of being anti-Wales is straw man, the misrepresentation of an opponent's position.

    ... are you the new nationalist ?

  • Comment number 18.

    Does it matter who leads the not-the-Conservative Party in Wales? It is more than a decade since they abandoned their core supporters in favour of a divisive pro-EU, pro-devo, pro-Welsh language policy set which leaves them so close to the other 3 parties I can hardly tell the difference any more. What are they for?

    "So no repeat of the three way battle as we saw between Carwyn Jones, Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis back in 2009."

    In fact they are now so far left that if the above 3 care to apply to become Tory leader it won't even surprise me if they are in with a sporting chance!

  • Comment number 19.

    Certainly a misuse, John. But less certainly a 'new nationalist'. Being English-speaking and from the North East I'm not sure I would fit your criteria. But then I think it's possible we have entirely different perceptions of what Welsh nationalism actually entails.

  • Comment number 20.

    "3. flinchers, I presume you mean flincher's
    4. sneerers, I presume you mean sneerer's"

    Some kind advice Mr Tyler. Never give spelling advice....

  • Comment number 21.

    Who are Messrs Flincher & Sneerer?

  • Comment number 22.

    Apart from those that voted Labour and Conservative

    182,907 people voted for Plaid Cymru these are just the ones who bothered to vote.

    There were many for what ever reason, who support them, didn't vote.

    There are many who voted for other parties out of loyalty but may agree with Plaids aims.

    Are those who denegrate Plaid and their supporters saying that their votes and views are irelevent just because they have those views.

    Just because we stand up for Wales its language and culture doesn't mean we are any the less wrong or more right than someone who has different views.

    So why should it be wonderful news for those possibly hundreds of thousands of people to be completely ignored and classed as irelevent in their own country.

    It is supposed to be a Democracy.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm glad that someone with Plaid credentials has finally noticed that Wales is supposed to be a Democracy. Did it take losing to open your eyes?
    Perhaps the word Democracy should be writ large in all Plaid offices.
    Maybe Wales could become a better place for everyone..

  • Comment number 24.

    Sorry I don't know what you are on about.

    Surely every one at the Assembly were democraticaly elected.

    If the Labour victors decided they couldn't govern without help. Then they must have been within their legal rights to ask another party to help them out.

    Just as they have in Westminster.

    I honestly can't think of any other reason you may have for your statement.

  • Comment number 25.


    The 20 list members do not face the electorate as individuals - it is debatable whether this form of proportional representation is in fact truly democratic.

    After all list members have no responsibility or loyalty to a constituency or the public.
    They're only loyalty is to the Party.

    This block of 20 AM's vote as instructed by the Party - the opinions and needs of a constituency is not their problem or responsibility.

    The Richards Commission was not happy with the arrangement and proposed a fully directly elected Assembly.

  • Comment number 26.

    Don't you remember it was the Labour Party in Government who gave us that I believe it was Peter Hain.

    Thinking it would never work and it would all be beneficial to Labour.

    Didn't quite work to plan did it.

  • Comment number 27.

    Re 4

    Can anyone confirm that Crossroads is in fact a seven year old?

    Re 11

    John Tyler's response to tredwyn is a display of the irony by-pass which is a feature of the extreme right wing of Welsh and British politics. When we hear their near xenophobic responses to anything European (tellingme... has another breathless, grammatically claustrophobic rant about that subject on one of the recent threads), it makes John Tyler's contribution even more extraordinary.

    And three cheers for the fact that UKIP and the BNP failed to win a single seat!

    And, yes, Mr Tyler's use of apostrophes isn't what it should be, but who am I - a mere deluded Welsh speaking Plaid voter - to draw attention to that?

    It clearly wasn't a good night for Plaid - though apparently someone worked out that we were just 150 votes away from having 3 extra seats. But I'm not that disheartened - a chance to re-group and remember the most important thing to happen in 2011, the stunning referendum victory. A referendum that Plaid insisted on holding - it was after all a One Wales pledge - even though Labour was nervous that it might be lost!

    Some of our more deluded friends on here seem to think that Plaid is dead and buried; such complacency can only speed our return to where we would like to be.

    My congratulations, however, to Carwyn Jones and the Labour Party.

  • Comment number 28.

    Re. No. 11 - John Tyler's

    Your message does not make sense to me in points 3 and 4. Could you please explain your point in greater detail. Or should that be detail's?

  • Comment number 29.

    And before we all get carried away, lets remind ourselves that no one won the election, as no party got over 50% of the votes or the seats.

    The 20 top up list members are voted on by the public, that is what the list vote is for. Its not perfect, it tends to over represent the largest party (as seen by Labour getting 50% of the seats on just over 40% of the vote). If they want to keep their seats then they need to work their region, act as an ombudsman for their constituents. Its not perfect and West Wales and I may disagree on this, but I'd prefer STV, as did the Richard Commission, as would have Ron Davies - but was blocked by the Labour party.

    Plaid is not supported by the majority of those that vote, but then neither is everyone. Its not a binary election John, its not Unionist vs Nationalist. We actually have several nationalist parties, British Nationalists - like UKIP and to a lesser extent Labour/Lib Dem/Conservatives, and of course the execrable BNP, and then a civic nationalist party like Plaid Cymru. Plaid's vote is substantial, a minority but a big minority. Its up to Plaid to convince the electorate that its policies are right, and its up to the other parties to promote their own policies, but attempts to paint Plaid as being antidemocratic, which is what some here regularly try to do, is just dishonest and frankly a bit desperate. I think the thing that blows that one out of the water is that they were in government with Labour. The Labour party is many things but its not in the business of going into coalition with anti democratic parties.

  • Comment number 30.

    22 What a sneering and inaccurate post. The electorate in Wales numbers 2.3 million. Just 189K diehards bothered to vote PC. To suggest those who did not vote, are closet PC supporters is simply stupid. It is condescending to suggest that those that voted for parties other than PC did so out of loyalty. Are the electorate that stupid in the eyes of PC

    The question is why more people voted Labour/Conservative? Perhaps because they know that those parties better represent the interests of Wales including it's culture!

    That's called democracy - a concept alien to PC

  • Comment number 31.

    30. Decentjohn

    I have not suggested any where that those who didn't vote are closet Plaid Cymru supporters.

    Please read my comment again and don't twist my words to suit your own ends.

    I said 'many'. There were 182,907 who voted this time, over 200,000 last time in 2007.

    There were 169,799 on the list vote for Plaid Cymru so there were obviously 'many' from other parties who voted Plaid and therefore agree with their views.

    But, their loyaty vote went first of all to the party of first choice.

    Therefore what I 'acctualy' said is quite correct.

  • Comment number 32.

    Apologies for returning to the theme of this blog but if we're looking for Tory leadership then I'd have thought it was pretty straight forwarrd. Burns is an obvious choice because she brings a different skill set and style to Mr Bourne. RT and Miller are passionately ambitious and I predict they will go head to head. Darren can be very combatitive while RT is a little gaff includined though very personable. I understand that Paul doesn't want it hence he is the interim leader and will not be putting his hat in the ring.

  • Comment number 33.

    I suppose it takes a while to sink in. But surely Andrew R T Davies can now be identified without the R T. Has no one noticed that the original one did not stand in Swansea West.

  • Comment number 34.

    25. At 20:17pm 8th May 2011, West-Wales wrote:

    The 20 list members do not face the electorate as individuals - it is debatable whether this form of proportional representation is in fact truly democratic.

    After all list members have no responsibility or loyalty to a constituency or the public.
    They're only loyalty is to the Party.

    This block of 20 AM's vote as instructed by the Party - the opinions and needs of a constituency is not their problem or responsibility.

    The Richards Commission was not happy with the arrangement and proposed a fully directly elected Assembly.

    They also attract no constituency loyalty, something Bourne only discovered in the cold light of day

  • Comment number 35.

    Re M22: Well given the recent referendum in Wales results and turnout figures might we guess that those who did not bother to vote intended to vote "no" ? And that a proportion of the "Yes" voters voted that way due to Labour/Tory/Liberal/nat loyallty rather than because they actually wanted a Yes vote.
    Read the posting again and substitute the above words and you will see the nonsense that passes for political "comment" in Wales...


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