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Monday, February 13, 2012

Flogging a dead horse

Highly respected former Conservative Assembly Member, Lisa Francis has blogged about her reasons for quitting the party.

Lisa was the Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales from 2003 to 2007 and a particularly close friend of former Conservative Assembly Leader, Nick Bourne, who represented the same region before losing his seat in 2011. However, the direction the party has taken since that last Assembly election has not been to her taste.

She writes that she is unhappy about the way the party is being run and more particularly, about how the membership is treated. She has rejected the option of trying to change things from within. However, she says that there is very little appetite from within the party to bring about positive change: "To rather crudely mix my metaphors, I arrived at this conclusion: if a horse doesn’t want to be led to water, then there ain’t no point flogging it until it’s dead!"

She argues that there needs to be radical root and branch reform of the Welsh Conservatives:

I think that most people would agree that the progress of any organisation is dependent on its reputation. In my opinion, in order to improve this, the Welsh Conservatives need to get their marketing right and to properly serve their members, (the people who are after all, the ‘shareholders’ in the company).

• Members need to see evidence that the professional party in Wales (the salaried arm of the party charged with administration) is properly performance managed.
• There needs to be better communication from the Party’s Management Board to the Party members.

It is a pity that it always seems to have been a struggle to find volunteers who are willing to stand for election to the Management Board, to such an extent that within the Party over the last few years, members have seen the same old suspects from the voluntary party hierarchy being ‘recycled’ back onto the Board. This is not good for party democracy or for introducing new ideas.

• There needs to be better communication with Party members overall.

Members want and need to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion and that their opinions are valued – this means making regular contact and not just asking them to deliver leaflets at election time!

To be fair, these complaints could apply to any political party in the UK, which leads me to think that there may be deeper reasons for Lisa's resignation. She makes it clear that no one individual is to blame for these problems but nevertheless it is difficult to separate her complaints from the general discontent that has trouble the Welsh Conservatives since Andrew RT Davies took over leadership of their Assembly Group.

It is well known that there is unease within the group itself at the way he is leading it. There is also the well-documented spat between Mr. Davies and Cheryl Gillan over his reported ambition to be designated as Welsh Conservative Leader.

Whichever way you look at this, it is undeniable that the Welsh Conservatives are in some disarray. They will not welcome the public loss of such a substantial and well-liked politician.
I was just wondering: you were very close to losing your seat in the last election.

I've always thought about politicians: if you had lost your seat, what do you think you'd be doing now and where? and at election night, when you thought you were going to lose what went through your head, was it "sh*t I haven't got a job" or "one less Welsh LD in the Senedd"?

It's a very strange position to be in I'm sure.
"Highly respected former Conservative Assembly Member"?

I doubt few outside the Senedd balding have ever heard of Lisa Francis.

Strange to see someone quit a Party not because of policies but because they were unhappy with party bureaucracy.

Seems more likely a case of someone not getting the advancement they wanted to me.
I suppose Peter would carry on blogging, it's become a way of life for him.

The Tories in Wales are rather at cross-purposes.

The problem is that it is essentially an English party.

Nick Bourne, to his credit, had realised that those who hold right of centre political views in Wales righly need a party which puts their interests first, rather than the interests of the well-heeled of the south east of England.

Wales is largely an irrelevance to the Tory party. Cheryl Gillan was prepared to resign if the HS line went through her Aylesbury constituency, but won't raise a little finger to ensure that the line to Swansea is electrified. It's cost £500 million to buy her off, whereas a tenth of than would have solved the issue for Swansea.

Wales has been and always will be screwed by the Tories..regrettably they're ably assisted by Peter's compatriots in the LibDems at present.
Wales is benefitting more from this coalition government than you are apparently prepared to acknowledge.
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