‘An­drew RT Davies could stage po­lit­i­cal come­back’

Western Mail - - NEWS -

THE re­turn of An­drew RT Davies as leader of the Welsh Con­ser­va­tives should not be ruled out, ac­cord­ing to an aca­demic.

Sam Blax­land, a post­doc­toral fel­low at Swansea Univer­sity, made the com­ment in an ar­ti­cle for web mag­a­zine The Con­ver­sa­tion.

Mr Davies re­signed ear­lier this week af­ter seven years in the role.

Sup­port­ers of the South Wales Cen­tral AM say he was the vic­tim of those in the party who ac­cuse him of be­tray­ing David Cameron by back­ing a Leave vote in the Brexit ref­er­en­dum.

Pre­seli Pem­brokeshire AM Paul Davies is cur­rently the act­ing leader and has said he wants the job on a per­ma­nent ba­sis. Other AMs have said there should be a con­test, but as yet none have de­clared an in­ten­tion to stand as leader.

In his ar­ti­cle, Dr Blax­land states: “Davies should rightly go down in his­tory as a rare ex­am­ple of that kind of politi­cian most of us claim to want to see more of – some­one who speaks clearly and firmly and sticks to their core be­liefs. His de­ci­sion to cam­paign to leave the EU might not have gone down well in lib­eral Cardiff cir­cles, but it did show that he was in­de­pen­dently minded, telling it as he saw it. There would have been sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure on him from Lon­don not to take that stance.

“We also tend to for­get, two years on, that al­most ev­ery­one thought the Leave camp was go­ing to lose – so it was not as if Davies was mak­ing a self-pro­mot­ing or ca­reerist move. He also proved, in the end, to have judged the mood, not just of the over­all gen­eral pub­lic, but of the Welsh vot­ers – and this de­serves to be em­pha­sised.”

Dr Blax­land goes on to point out that the dilemma fac­ing the Welsh Con­ser­va­tives stems from the fact that they could only get into govern­ment in Wales in part­ner­ship with Plaid Cymru – and that would in­volve adopt­ing the more pro­gres­sive stance pre­vi­ously adopted by Nick (now Lord) Bourne when he was leader of the Welsh Con­ser­va­tives.

And yet, he states: “The dwin­dling grass­roots mem­ber­ship and many who vote Tory prob­a­bly don’t want another cen­trist or some­one signed up to the na­tion­al­ist-lite Cardiff Bay agenda. They would ar­gue that there are plenty of politi­cians and par­ties who of­fer that al­ready. One can’t help but feel that the Con­ser­va­tive mem­ber­ship would rather be a ro­bustly right-of-cen­tre op­po­si­tion party than in govern­ment with Plaid Cymru types who hap­pily ad­mit to be­ing so­cial­ists.

“When you think about it that way – and re­alise there aren’t many vi­able al­ter­na­tives to re­place ‘An­drew RT’ – it wouldn’t be too out­landish to bet on him mak­ing a re­turn.”

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