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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Welsh Tory leader disowns his party's UK manifesto

It is fair to say that all of the Welsh Parties have struggled with the implications of devolution when it came to writing their manifestos. The careful wording of pledges so as to distinguish between English and Welsh responsibilities is an art form that tests even the most switched on devolutionist when it comes to the details of each policy.

There are though very clear political issues where we should expect the UK and Welsh manifestos of each party to be consistent. One of these issues is the powers&nbsthat may be devolved to the Welsh Assembly after the election. After all it is the UK Government that will be making the decision on that matter, not the Welsh First Minister and his/her party.

So the latest gaffe by the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives really does point to chaos within that party and possibly a major rift to boost. According to the Western Mail, Andrew R.T. Davies has distanced himself from the UK Conservative manifesto, saying he has not read it and is not interested in it.

This disagreement centres around the provision in the Conservative's UK manifesto that apparently states that a funding floor will be introduced once a referendum on tax varying powers for the Assembly has been called. However, the Welsh Conservative manifesto, launched by Mr Davies and others at the Royal Welsh Showground last week, did not include such a link, saying instead that there was an expectation of a poll being held:

Mr Davies was asked in his weekly press conference about the fact that the UK Conservative manifesto made a link between a income tax referendum and a funding floor. He said that wasn’t in “the one that I launched, not the one that I launched with the Secretary of State on Friday.”

Asked for what voters should look at, Mr Davies said: “The manifesto that the Prime Minister, myself and Stephen Crabb launched.”

Pressed on whether he was disowning the London manifesto, he said: “I haven’t read the London one because I’m not interested in the London one.

"It’s the Wales one I’m interested in. That is the one that I endorse.

"That’s the one that is relevant to the people of Wales. That’s the one that the Conservative MPs across Wales are fighting on.

“We are signed up 110% to the St David’s Day accord, which our Secretary of State and our Prime Minister delivered at the Millennium Stadium. There are no ifs or buts, there will be a funding floor."

It seems that Andrew RT Davies can’t be bothered to read his own party’s manifesto. That is deeply embarrassing for the Tories and lays bare the deep splits within the Welsh Tory party and their Assembly group.

He now stands alongside Nigel Farage as the only other party leader in recent times to rubbish their own manifesto, though at least Nigel Farage had the sense to wait until after the election.
Maybe he's distancing himself because the Welsh Tories seem more to be left wingers with farm handouts and farm unions at the top of the agenda
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