Welsh Conservative Leadership Tracker
Today we are launching a new tracker to keep you up to date with the Welsh Conservative Leadership Election, and its Davies versus Davies.
The contest for the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives is always a two-horse race. If more AMs want to put their hat in the ring, then the two with the most nominations get on to the ballot.
This is not an election, however, of the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives. It is of the Group Leader of the Conservative Assembly Group. Each of the parties at the Assembly have different constitutions and ways of thinking about devolution, but the Conservatives have not really adapted theirs over the years.
The Group Leader gets a seat on the Committee than runs the party in Wales, but in terms of mindset, there is still some work to do, even though devolution helped the party to detoxify in Wales – Nick Bourne managed to use the platform to help rebuild when they only had one MP.
Ruth Davidson has managed to ensure that she really is seen as the Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, but that is down more to personality, electoral success and skillful and well-judged interventions in politics at a UK level. The constitution may not be different, but she has changed the mindset.
Andrew RT Davies has not managed that, and not just because of his, let’s say, different political style. He has also had to contend with a much louder choir of local grandees, Welsh MPs and various Secretaries of State. Tensions across the party structures are regularly played out in public.
So it is good to see Suzy Davies making the case for a change in the way the party sees this role, but the odds may be stacked against her in terms of getting that deal done.
It will be interesting to see if this will be one of the axis points re the debate on who should take them into the 2021 election. On policy terms, it is hard, at this juncture, to outline real differences between Paul and Suzy’s platforms. The Welsh Conservatives could really do with a refresh in this area, so that’s at least one good reason to have the debate.
It seems that both would also be very happy to work with Plaid Cymru to try and provide an alternative government to Labour in 2021. Both are genuinely well liked and trusted across the party spectrum, and one should never underestimate the value of that during coalition negotiations.
So maybe whoever wins we will see a shift in the party direction here – refreshed in policy terms, improved internal party relationship, slightly more devolutionist, a bit more centre-right. And with continued discussions with Plaid Cymru on what the alternative government would look like.
Nominations close on the 16th July, but we are not expecting any other nominations at this stage. Postal ballots are sent out mid-August and the declration will be on 6th September.
For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.
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