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Contest begins for Welsh Conservative leadership

There seem to have been several false starts in Welsh politics recently, amongst them the contest to replace Nick Bourne as leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly.

After an initial flurry when the party’s Assembly Members negotiated agreements and disagreements to come up with a final two, today looks more like a real beginning of the contest.

A week of hustings starts in Aberystwyth tonight and will take the two rivals and their supporters around the country to meet party members.

Earlier one of the candidates, Nick Ramsay, published his manifesto, marking the official launch of his campaign. You can read it on his campaign website here.

There were some surprises in his manifesto such as the eye-catching promise to “look again at our policy of opposition to free school breakfasts.”

In itself that may not seem particularly significant but as a signal of intent, it sends quite a message to the political world – that the Welsh Conservatives have changed and, under Nick Ramsay, would be willing to change further.

But he can’t afford to be seen as just a moderniser and a devolution-fan because many in his party are sceptical if not downright hostile to the Assembly and everything connected to it. So for them there’s this message:

I will not seek devolution of further legislative power to the Welsh Assembly – we now have the tools to get on with the job.

It’s time to stop marking out the pitch and start playing the game. But there was one overriding message he wanted to send today, it was that the Welsh Conservatives must continue to “reach out” to non-Conservatives if it’s ever to be in government in Cardiff Bay.

Naturally, he thinks he’s the man to lead that task.

His rival Andrew RT Davies thinks differently. Welsh Conservative members will get to find out more about what Davies stands for over the next few days.

The rest of us will find out when his manifesto is published next week.


About Adrian Masters

By day, Political Editor at ITV Wales. By night, obsessed with music and books.

Tweets from @ITVWales


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