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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew RT Davies AM’

There seem to have been a lot of false starts in Welsh politics recently, amongst them the contest to replace Nick Bourne as leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly.

After an initial flurry when the party’s Assembly Members negotiated agreements and disagreements to come up with a final two, today looks more like a real beginning of the contest.

A week of hustings starts in Aberystwyth tonight and will take the two rivals and their supporters around the country to meet party members.

And earlier one of the candidates, Nick Ramsay, published his manifesto, marking the official launch of his campaign. You can read it on his campaign website here.

There were some surprises in his manifesto such as the eye-catching promise to ‘look again at our policy of opposition to free school breakfasts.’

In itself that may not seem particularly significant but as a signal of intent, it sends quite a message to the political world – that the Welsh Conservatives have changed and, under Nick Ramsay, would be willing to change further.

But he can’t afford to be seen as just a moderniser and a devolution-fan since many in his party are sceptical if not downright hostile to the Assembly and everything connected to it.

So for them there’s this message:

I will not seek devolution of further legislative power to the Welsh Assembly – we now have the tools to get on with the job. It’s time to stop marking out the pitch and start playing the game.

But there was one overriding message he wanted to send today, it was that the Welsh Conservatives must continue to ‘reach out’ to non-Conservatives if it’s ever to be in government in Cardiff Bay.

Naturally he thinks he’s the man to lead that task.

His rival Andrew RT Davies thinks differently. Welsh Conservative members will get to find out more about what HE stands for over the next few days.

The rest of us will find out when his manifesto is published next week.

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‘No deals,’ Andrew RT Davies insisted when I asked him. ‘I don’t believe in deals.’

And when I put the same question to Darren Millar he used almost identical language, saying ‘There have been no deals with Andrew RT Davies about jobs or anything like that in the future.’

The deal or no deal question keeps being asked by people like me because Mr Millar has regularly been spoken about as a potential leader of the Conservatives in the Assembly and it was considered a given that he would stand for it when the vacancy arose.

Now it has arisen but he won’t be standing and will be supporting Mr Davies. A decision reached, he assured me, after discussing it with his family and based entirely on his belief that Mr Davies is the effective communicator the party needs now that Nick Bourne is no longer in charge in Cardiff Bay.

After all, the AM for Clwyd South reminded me, he’s only 34 and has time on his side.

But cynics will wonder why, as well as not standing, he’s also nominating Mr Davies.

Particularly since the other person who was thought to be a potential leader but isn’t standing, Angela Burns, isn’t backing either man.

Her failure to win nominations will disappoint many inside and outside the party, and not just because she would have broken the male domination of the Conservative leadership.

She also surprised many in the party by holding her Carmarthen West and South Pembs constituency with an increased share of the vote and is said to have strong views on the way the Welsh Conservatives can achieve what seems a distant goal – getting into government in Cardiff Bay.

But in the end, once Nick Ramsay had secured three nominations with the promise of a fourth, it became clear to those of us on the outside what had long been suspected: that there could only be two candidates.

That’s because both acting leader Paul Davies and new Deputy Presiding Officer David Melding said they would remain neutral.

That left only seven AMs in the group and a requirement for three nominations.

According to Darren Millar though, his decision was taken last week before the maths became clear.

A lot more will become clear over the next two months. That’s how long there is for the two candidates to persuade Tory members across the country that they’re the right man for the job.

It looks increasingly likely too that Plaid Cymru will be choosing a leader sooner rather than later too.

The election may be over, but its effects are only just beginning to be felt.

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With just two weeks to go until we vote in the Assembly powers referendum, I thought I’d heard pretty much all the views on both sides of the debate. Until today.

I’ve been chairing a debate in the old Assembly chamber for A-level politics students from across Wales and what a range of strong opinions they had.

6th Formers before today's referendum debate.

What exercised them most was the role played by language in shaping Welsh identity and what sort of role – or otherwise – it should play in Welsh politics.

What surprised me most was the closeness of the vote we held at the end of the session. I’ll get the exact count later but it looked pretty much divided equally between those who’d support a Yes vote and those who’d vote No.

You can see highlights of the debate in tonight’s Sharp End.

I’ve also been interviewing the former Economic Development minister Andrew Davies.

Despite not having done that job for four years, he’s faced criticism of his tenure in the last week after similar criticism was levelled at his successor.

Education remains in the spotlight so I’ll be discussing that too with my guests, the Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies, business expert Dr Paul Thomas and former Liberal Democrat candidate now a politics watcher, Alison Goldsworthy.

Join us for Sharp End, 1035pm ITV1 Wales.

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