Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Daily Post Column, June 13th 2011

Back in May, the Welsh Conservatives’ increased their Assembly Members to fifteen, leapfrogging Plaid Cymru to become the official opposition party.

However, thanks to the electoral system within Wales, Conservative wins in the Mid and West Wales region meant that leader Nick Bourne lost his own seat.

As a result, one of the first acts of the Welsh Conservatives following the election was to seek a new AM to lead the group during the next five years of the fourth Assembly for Wales.

Whilst political commentators had seen Jonathan Morgan, the AM Cardiff North AM, as the heir apparent, he also lost his seat to the former MP Julie Morgan during a bruising election battle.

So, those of us who are members of the Welsh Conservative Party are now faced with a choice between two highly able Assembly Members, both of whom were first elected in 2007, but have very differing styles and approaches to the future of not only the party, but to its policies in Wales during the next five years.

Since joining the Conservative Party, I have come to know both Andrew RT Davies and Nick Ramsay, the contenders for the leadership of the Welsh Conservatives, as able and committed politicians who are not only dedicated to their jobs, but will go the extra mile on behalf of their constituents.

Both are equally capable of leading the Welsh Conservatives during the next important period of devolution but, like every other member, I only have one vote when the election process starts on Friday.

So, as many people have already asked me who I will be voting for, I have no hesitation in declaring for Andrew RT Davies as the next leader.

That is no reflection on Nick Ramsay, as I feel he will one day lead the Welsh Conservative Party in Wales. Certainly, being only 36, time is on his side. However, as a member of the party, I have to consider whose is going to be the best for the party over the next five years and, in my opinion, Andrew is the right person for the job.

Since Andrew was elected to the Assembly in 2007, he has quickly built a reputation as one of the hardest working members, both in terms of his contributions to the plenary sessions and submitting questions to government Ministers.

But it is not only Andrew’s skills within the chamber which are important. It is his knowledge and experience outside the assembly which are the very attributes the party needs at this time.

Prior to his election as an Assembly Member, Andrew worked for over 20 years in the agricultural industry and was active in supporting a variety of voluntary organisations. More importantly, as a partner in a family farming business, he is personally aware of how Labour’s policies have failed Welsh businesses over the last twelve years.

Most important of all, Andrew is prepared to listen to everyone’s opinion and ensure that it is not only a small clique in Cardiff Bay that influences politicians, something that will resonate with members across North Wales who feel that the Assembly needs to do more for the whole of our nation.

Indeed, on the day when he was made the Shadow Business Minister, Andrew phoned me to discuss his brief and, more importantly, to ask for a list of North Wales businesses to visit immediately so that he could ensure that their opinions on the Welsh economy could be put forward in the Chamber as quickly as possible. That is why he is in North East Wales today listening to the views of local entrepreneurs.

When the fourth National Assembly for Wales starts in earnest in the Autumn, the Welsh Conservatives will need to have a strong and robust leader who is prepared to challenge the Labour Party on each and every policy.

He must expose the lack of delivery that has been the byword of every single Labour-led administration since 1999 whilst ensuring that the Conservatives build on their recent support across the country.

As someone who would certainly place himself on the pro-devolution, progressive side of the party, I believe Andrew R.T. Davies is the best man not only to take the Welsh Conservatives forward to the next step of devolution but, more importantly, to challenge the current Labour Government over its policies during the next five years.

I hope that other Welsh Conservatives will take the same view as they cast their vote for a new leader during the next few weeks.