‘Leading’ Political Commentary

Christopher Harries

The aspiring devocrat, London based Theo Davies- Lewis has returned to his seemingly favourite subject the direction of the Welsh Conservative Party.

It is a subject that the seemingly self-appointed leading Welsh political commentator has harped on about for a while. Aside from an internship with a Conservative member of the Senedd, Mr Davies-Lewis does not appear to have had much involvement with the Welsh Conservative party. Thus the leading political commentator has a limited understanding of dynamics within the party.

The Welsh Conservative Party that he refers to is the Conservative Group within the devolved institution. The group indeed came to review its approach to devolution, an evolution from opposition to acquiescence to facilitation. Such acceptance of devolution has not extended to the party membership, who at best are apathetic of the institution. 

Polling of conservative voters would suggest that rather than apathetic there is actual hostility to devolution. As noted previously, seventy one per cent of people who intend to vote Conservative in the constituency vote would support abolition in a referendum. This sentiment is hardly some new trend within the grassroots. Instead, it has been present from the outset but neglected from representation in the ranks of candidates for some time.

The leading Welsh political commentator continued discussing recent developments within the party:

‘But where has that Welsh conservatism gone in more recent years? Paul Davies has spoken of a radical change of direction — and some Senedd candidates have made their outright anti-devolutionism clear. To put it mildly, as Mr Melding does so well, the recent Tory Senedd candidate selection process was “not kind to liberal Conservatives”, with experienced and moderate politicians being left off key lists.’

Every leader seeks to hone a message that appeals to the broadest possible audience. The change of direction under Paul Davies MS aims to reach out to those voters who are apathetic of devolution. The low turnout for devolved elections means that there is a sizeable electorate disengaged from the process and so it makes sense to try to appeal to those voters.

To understand the selection process, one must look past the devolution issue. The individuals that David Melding MS alluded to were victims of internal politics. The devolution issue was not the cause of their woes. Suzy Davies MS acknowledged this, while the question put to Mr Jonathan Morgan was to mask the reality.

Davies- Lewis later returns to the change within the Welsh Conservatives:

‘They are becoming a peculiar beast: a political party standing candidates for election to a parliament they want to dismantle.’

Is such an approach not dissimilar to Plaid Cymru standing candidates for election to Westminster, given they stand candidates for election to a parliament they want to be free of?

Would Davies- Lewis dub Plaid Cymru a peculiar beast for standing candidates in Westminster elections? 

We can assume that he would not apply such a judgement despite the similarities. Ultimately this betrays Davies- Lewis position, a double standard where Welsh Nationalists can participate in a political system they seek to dismantle, yet Unionists must abandon their principles and conform with a settlement they do not support.

It is possible to participate in a system that you do not support. To participate is to reflect the realities of the time, it does not require acceptance of the current consensus.  Fundamentally Davies- Lewis must appreciate for some Unionists they see themselves as having a dual identity, Welsh and an overarching identity of British. That dual identity is not anti- Welsh it just places little value on an institution which risks the overarching identity.

One has to observe that on the whole, those lamenting the changing direction of the Welsh Conservative Party are not supporters of the party. So it begs the question of why they are so vociferous in opposition to the change, could it be that they lament the change due to the risk to devolution?

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