‘Andrew RT Davies could stage political comeback’
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.”