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Friday, October 03, 2008

The Bourne sanction

I was walking to my office in the Assembly yesterday morning only to be stopped in my tracks by the reappearance of a full size cardboard cutout of Tory leader Nick Bourne. It was standing inside Tory AM, Angela Burns' open office and has been fully restored to health after the incident last year when it lost its head at the ITV Politician of the Year Awards. The only thing that the effigy was missing was a black eye and a plaster on its forehead.

That may seem to be an unnecessarily personal comment and normally I would not have made it, however it appears that the real bruising on the Tory leader is less visible if this news story is any guide. The BBC tell us that Nick Bourne has dissociated himself from a dossier issued by his own party attacking First Minister Rhodri Morgan:

Tories had issued a 39-page dossier on Mr Morgan calling him the "Clown Prince of Wales" and even criticising his dress sense and hairstyle.

However, Mr Bourne said it went too far, it was not issued by him, and he had "made his peace" with Mr Morgan.

What is intriquing about this statement is that it is immediately followed by confirmation from 'Tory sources' that Mr Bourne had signed off the dossier. Mr. Bourne's former colleague and leading Welsh Conservative, Glyn Davies also wades in. He wrote on his blog last night that he considers the dossier to be 'an outstanding piece of work, and congratulate those who, with so much effort and skill, prepared such a good comprehensive demolition of Rhodri Morgan's record.' Most commentators however focus on his analogy that 'as a rugby player, I never remember seeing my captain walking away when there was flak about.' There is a clear message for the Welsh Tory leader there.

So what is going on? Has Nick Bourne been set up by members of his own party? Is there a subtle campaign to undermine his authority by putting out an over-the-top attack document in his name and without his agreement? Why are 'Tory sources' contradicting him through anonymous briefings?

There have been rumours that some Tory AMs are impatient to have their chance to lead the group. It is also the case that leading Welsh Conservatives have been unhappy for some time with Nick Bourne's pro-devolution stance. If, as it is suggested, the report by Lord Roberts of Conwy will recommend that the Assembly stays as it is, thus opposing any moves to seek further powers for the Senedd, it could leave Nick Bourne isolated within his own party. Perhaps those briefing against him are anticipating that very eventuality.

Then again maybe the issue will come to a head earlier. The BBC and many of the blogs are full of news about a crunch meeting this weekend in which the plotters-in-chief will map out Nick Bourne's downfall. Commentators are talking about attempts to force out the Welsh Tory leader as early as next week. They are saying that Nick's credibility has been shot to pieces by attempting to distance himself from the Rhodri dossier, even though his fingerprints are all over it. Will he go quietly or will he fight to stay on? We watch and wait.
"It was standing inside Tory AM, Angela Burns' open office"

Should we expect an urgent retraction claiming that she didn't mean this at all, and really intended it to be David Cameron?
I think its very bad form for him to blame his staff for sometihng that had his signature on.
Maybe the Office Cleaner Mrs Mop will once again reveal more!
Prehaps a certain other Mr.Morgan is behind this, and to clearify, I don't mean the First Minister.....
If NB has been set up then he was incredibly stupid not to see it coming.

Certainly there are elements in the Conservative party who have leaed on this as an opportunity to dump a guy who seems to be in favour of further powers for the Assembly. Do Tories in Wales really care about the National Assembly though?
yes my immmediate thoughts on hearing this was that nick bourne was being set-up by the still strong anti-devolution section of the wales tory party. With the much heralded roberts report set to argue for no further powers looks like the tories in wales will be throwing their lot in with the loony right winger david davies and his 'cross party' NO campaign - a campaign that aparently has already seen discussions take place with labour anti-devolutionists in kinnochio's heartland!

YES campaigners need to take note of all these developments and begin work on a cross party yes campaign now. We cannot wait for emyr parry and co to take their 'soundings' and finalise their 'deliberations'!
To me this does not sound like Nick Bourne at all. The personal attacks
on Rhodri morgan which have nothing to do with Politics.
I hope he stays as leader of the welsh conservatives because he is not insular looking and is pro-devolution.
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