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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Night of the blunt knives

One person tweeted the question last night: how can Andrew R.T, Davies bring the opposition parties together when he cannot even unite his own group. And indeed that has been the story of the fourth Assembly, a divided and dysfunctional Tory group who have struggled to vote together on key issues and have not been prepared to work with other groups so as to properly hold the Welsh Labour Government to account.

Last night Andrew R.T. Davies acted. He sacked the four refuseniks who had failed to vote against the lockstep in the draft Wales Bill, effectively creating a dissident group on his own backbenches and bringing the Tory divisions out into the open. In fact one Conservative AM even tweeted to ask why the Tory leader was dividing his own group.

That the reshuffle was cack-handed was underlined by the fact that Monmouthshire AM, Nick Ramsay was sacked from the front bench and as chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee whilst on the train to Brussels. He was told not by his party leader but by a Labour AM, who was travelling with him and who had read it on Twitter.

To add to Andrew R.T. Davies' troubles a Conservative MP piled in to say that he was surprised and shocked that Nick Ramsey had been sacked, emphasising that Ramsay had his full support. Will the revolt against Andrew R.T. Davies' leadership now be spreading to the Welsh Tory MPs?

In the space of a few weeks the Welsh Conservative Assembly Leader has managed to publicly set his group against the Secretary of State for Wales and against each other. It is nice work, if unprecedented. The opposition parties are hoping that Andrew R.T, Davies survives as leader up to and including the next Assembly elections.
Tax powers for the Assembly makes it harder for the Tories to work with the other parties, especially in a governing scenario, because they will want to slash taxes in an unrealistic and expensive way whereas Lib Dems and Plaid will be more nuanced. You can even see this with stamp duty, let alone any bigger taxes.
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