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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Should he stay or should he go?

Yesterday's Western Mail confirms what we already knew, that Nick Bourne's position as Welsh Conservative Leader is under threat from elements in his own group. There is more in today's Wales on Sunday, which says that momentum is building within the Conservative Party to push him out:

His latest expenses claims show he bought an iPod music player – claiming it was to help him learn Welsh – a £119.99 trouser press, plus £5,003.46 worth of “essential work” on his bathroom.

At least seven senior Tories are understood to want a change of leader. One political pundit said he could be gone by Christmas.

Speculation has been mounting that AMs Jonathan Morgan and Darran Miller have done a deal to mount a coup against Mr Bourne and become leader and deputy leader of the Assembly group.

Today Mr Morgan told Wales on Sunday: “The group has been very supportive of Nick and I’m assuming that is still the case.

“I wouldn’t be a politician if I wasn’t ambitious and of course I would consider it, but at this moment there is no vacancy.”

Peter Davies, a Tory councillor on Newport City Council’s cabinet, said political rivals were giving “a lot of stick” about “thieves running the kitchen” since the expenses details were released on Friday.

It is understood Mr Bourne asked officials to drop Mr Davies from a list of Assembly election candidates last year after he publicly advocated abolishing the Assembly.

“I have to say now that I agree with his decision because I don’t want to be associated with these type of claims,” said Mr Davies yesterday.

When asked if Mr Bourne should stand down he added: “That is for the members of his group to decide. He must be under a lot of pressure at the moment, he will have to mind his ps and qs now.”

One senior Tory has said: “This has damaged Nick a lot, adding to the concern over his judgment caused by the incident several months ago where he had to apologise after trying to distance himself from a dossier attacking Rhodri Morgan that he had authorised.

“The worst thing is that people are now laughing at him.”

Admittedly, this is a case of the usual suspects but the media smells blood in the water and are starting to circle in anticipation of a feast. They are not the only ones, even Conservative Home has got in on the act. They have put up a largely factual article about the speculation but I doubt that Nick Bourne will view it as helpful especially given the nature of some of the comments:

An iPod on public expenses? What a disgrace.

Go now.

Posted by: Rich December 14, 2008 at 11:56

We really need to be a lot less tolerant of elected Conservatives, and politicians in general who see and use public office as an opportunity to line their own pockets.

Do these people not think about their actions when they make these expenses claims or do they not care about this behaviour and how it will be seen?

Posted by: Rich December 14, 2008 at 12:00

I was extremely concerned to see him attend a protest organised by fringe fundamentalist group Christian Voice. Even a little research into them would have dissuaded most politicians from attending what may have appeared to be an innocent looking protest.

Posted by: Afleitch December 14, 2008 at 12:53

Nick Bourne's best chance is that the Christmas period will dampen down speculation and that it will all be forgotten by the New Year. I am not so sure his group have such short memories.
I can't believe all the media fuss over a bloody iPod! I mean, come on... if a £130 music player helps him learn Welsh (did with me) then what's the problem? They'll be saying next "claiming for pens! how dare they! a chair! sit on the floor!".

However, some of the expenses ARE unreasonable, and he's not the only guilty party. There needs to be a clear set of guidelines drawn (they don't seem clear to politicians or the public at the moment) and then our elected officials need to stick to them. If an iPod for the purposes of learning (or even just listening to while you spend 3 hours on a train) IS an unreasonable expense then dip into your pockets and buy it yourself, like the rest of us do.
I listen to podcasts that brear on my work on an iPod - my own iPod. My partner is a teacher and uses her own camera, laptop and iPod to put together interesting educational resources for her students.

Nick Bourne's spokesman can't distinguish between 'legal' and 'legitimate'.

THe media fuss has been precipitated by the iPod. It's sustained the justifiable public suspicions of venality.
I need a bath lift and a new wheelchair, I've applied for both and have been told I'm on the urgent list guess how long the waiting list is six years I've been waiting five already.

Yes I would like an I pod as well but a wheelchair is what I need.
Problem is I think Bourne thinks he is Matt Damon incarnate...that he is indestructible!

He needs a reality check and see he's not bigger than the party. He has done good work but its time to step aside. Mike German has, Rhodri is. It's a new game post-May 2007 and it needs new leadership.
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