Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Andrew RT Davies blames EU splits and UKIP for Tory election losses

It is perhaps saying something  about the nature of the Welsh Assembly that though since the first elections in 1999 we have seen all the Parties have a change of leader only Kirsty Williams of the Liberal Democrats has resigned immediately after a Election.
So perhaps it comes as np big surprise that  Tory  leader Andrew RT Davies despite losing 3 seats  a year after his Party had won 3 seats in the UK General Election
Mr Davies has  claimed that lack of unity on the EU, UK government challenges and UKIP all contributed to the Welsh Conservatives losing seats at the assembly elections,
He has spoken for the first time why he feels they lost ground at the election.
The Tories lost three seats and Plaid Cymru became the main opposition to Labour, who fell short of a majority.
Mr Davies said his vision for a "one nation Conservative Wales" had been put "on hold for another five years".
Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Davies argued his party will need to do more to strengthen perceptions of what makes its brand "uniquely Welsh".
Outlining his reasons, Mr Davies said UKIP candidates were able to "deftly muddy much of the pre-election debate with talk of non-devolved issues such as immigration and the EU referendum, which undoubtedly resonated with many voters who went on to award them their second vote on the ballot paper".
He added:
 "Others have pointed to the effect of the referendum on party unity.
"With so many senior figures nailing their colours to opposite sides of the mast, one can only wonder at the effect this had on our Conservative message."
Mr Davies had himself made clear in February that he would be voting for Britain to leave the EU.
"I felt I had no choice but to do the honest thing by declaring publicly my personal position on what remains the biggest constitutional question we have faced in a generation," 
 How much of a distraction this would be became apparent during Mr Davies' BBC Ask the Leader debate in Swansea.
"For 30 minutes I fielded questions from an audience mostly concerned with issues beyond the control of our devolved legislature," he said.
"This at a time when I should have been pitching my party's plans for a better health service and education system for Wales."
Mr Davies seems to be making calls for greater autonomy for the Welsh Conservatives
 "cannot and must not be ignored that as a party we need to do more to strengthen voter perception of what makes our brand of conservatism uniquely Welsh, and not allow ourselves to be constrained by Westminster or vulnerable to events across the border".
We must no longer be content to barrack from the side-lines like armchair generals.
"We must now roll up our sleeves, go back to the drawing board and develop progressive one nation solutions to the issues that matter most to Wales."
Alas Mr Davies  does not see parity of powers with Scotland as a means for Wales not to be  "constrained by Westminster or vulnerable to events across the border".

He may be right that Europe may have played a part in his Parties failure last May.

But he may also consider that no Party can  "develop progressive one nation solutions to the issues that matter most to Wales." without the  real powers to
do so ,

Even under Plaid and Leanne Wood under the current settlement  of Devo Dipynbach the scope to make real change is limited.
 

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