Senedd: Some Tory candidates 'would scrap' Welsh parliament

By James Williams
BBC Wales political correspondent

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image captionEight Conservative candidates were shortlisted for the South Wales Central region

Leaked documents show that three Conservative candidates standing at this year's Senedd election support abolishing the Welsh Parliament.

All prospective candidates for the South Wales Central regional list were asked how they would stand in a hypothetical referendum late last year.

Now BBC Wales has seen statements from three of the selected candidates stating they are anti-devolution.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said attention needs to be on the election.

The Tories have won two of the four seats in the South Wales Central region in every Senedd election since devolution in 1999.

In December, all candidates for the seats - which is based on the additional member system - were asked about the Senedd during the selection process to determine who would be selected for the list.

Councillors Joel James, Calum Davies and Chris Thorne - respectively selected second, third and fourth as Conservative South Wales Central candidates - sent applications to party members setting out their anti-devolution stance.

The party's former Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies was selected top of the party's list for the area.

A party source said his "CV wasn't abolitionist".

Commenting at the time, David Melding, who is standing down as the second Conservative Member of the Senedd for South Wales Central at the 2021 election, said he did not believe "such a question would have been sanctioned by the Welsh Conservative Party".

One party source dismissed the question as "random", but another said it showed the party's "strong abolish streak".

In an application, seen by BBC Wales, Mr James, councillor for the Llantwit Fardre ward in Rhondda Cynon Taf, said: "As Welsh Conservatives, is it not our duty to say that after 20 years of devolution, it has failed, and that enough is enough?

"I believe that the time has come to respond to the changed political landscape, harness the anger and concerns of those voters ignored by an arrogant and self-electing elite, and take a sledgehammer to Labour's original 'Red Wall', finally ending their devolution experiment in Wales.

"I will challenge the cosy Cardiff Bay consensus that has underachieved for Wales for so long, I will continue to push Welsh Labour out of south Wales, and I will campaign to end devolution in Wales."

Calum Davies, is in third spot, with Chris Thorne, in fourth. It is unlikely that either will be elected.

Calum Davies said in his application: "The simple truth is devolution is failing and must be abolished.

"So, if you want accountability, a disrupter of the cushy Cardiff Bay consensus, and someone who not only recognises the danger in devolution but will fight to abolish it, then I'm your Conservative and Unionist," he added.

Mr Thorne said: "In any future referendum on the future of the assembly, I would vote to abolish the institution."

Welsh Secretary Mr Hart said: "I'm not in the same place as they are in terms of rolling back devolution and all those things."

He said it "reflects intense frustration in the fact that for 23 years there has been a sort of one-party state in Wales".

"And I think everybody's attention needs to be on the election in May."

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