So what does the Welsh Conservatives’ first ever leader in the Assembly make of the current leadership contest?
“Quiet and dull.” comes the response. According to Rod Richards, both candidates have failed to build enough of a public profile, choosing instead to concentrate on appealing to the membership, or in other words, the electorate.
“Party members are also members of the public, who mix with people who are not Conservatives” observes Mr Richards.
He’d like to see Andrew RT Davies and Nick Ramsay making themselves more visible to people outside the party, so that the Tories have a recognisable leader in the Assembly to give Carwyn Jones a run for his money in the Chamber.
And having done the job himself, his advice for a would-be leader?
“Get yourself elected”
A dig at his long-time rival and eventual successor Nick Bourne, who was handed the leadership after Rod Richards stood down because he was facing an assault charge. Mr Richards, who was cleared of the charge, still calls the appointment a “scandal” that denied the Welsh members a say in who would lead them.
What the party does need, he says, is a leader who will “liven up” First Minister’s Questions. “Carwyn Jones leans on his elbow, looking half asleep” he says, claiming the Labour leader dismissed questions by Nick Bourne and others “as though he were swatting flies”.
Rod Richards won’t come down in favour of either candidate in this race. Both, he says, have so far “fallen short of the mark” by not projecting themselves in the public domain.
And if they want to one day be First Minister, it’s the Welsh public – and not just Conservatives – that they will have to win over.
- The winner of the Welsh Conservative leadership contest is due to be declared on 14 July