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Monday, November 07, 2005

Our survey says...

Whilst the Western Mail reported this morning that more than one in three children (36%) could not correctly identify the main ingredient of chips as potatoes and 37% failed to identify that cheese was mostly made of milk, the Welsh Conservatives faced their own ignorance barrier. The question posed by the Chair of Newport West Conservatives, was "who is Nick Bourne?".

David Fouweather, who is also a City Councillor, called on the Welsh Tory Assembly Leader to offer himself for re-election to that post.

Mr Bourne, a former law professor and deputy principal of Swansea Institute, became leader of the Tories' now 11-strong National Assembly group after the previous leader, Rod Richards, stepped down after being charged with assaulting a woman. He was later acquitted.

Yesterday, Mr Richards claimed he had only intended to relinquish the post on a temporary basis.

"When I was found not guilty, Bourne should have offered to submit himself for election and given me the chance to stand against him," he said. "Instead he clung on to the leadership. I was advised at the time that I would have good grounds to mount a legal challenge, but I had other things on my mind."

Mr Richards, who had defeated Mr Bourne 2-1 in an earlier members' ballot for the leadership of the party in Wales, was later expelled from the Assembly group, resigning as an AM shortly before being declared bankrupt.

Mr Fouweather, a Newport councillor, said, "Nick Bourne has never been endorsed by the party membership in Wales as leader. I don't think he should have just taken over when Rod Richards stepped down. Party members should now have the opportunity to decide whether they want him to carry on, or whether they want someone else to have a chance.

If by now you are wondering why Nick Bourne would even want to contemplate leading this disparate group of malcontents then you are not alone. The real problem however turns out not just to be Nick Bourne but the Welsh Assembly itself:

"I think it is time for someone else to take over the leadership. I don't think Nick Bourne has any popular appeal. He's not Welsh. People talk about Rhodri Morgan, they even talk about Mike German, but they don't talk about Nick Bourne. He seems to be spending his time making deals to defeat Labour with the other opposition leaders, but he doesn't push for what a lot of people want, a referendum where people would have an option to scrap the Assembly."

Quite how a bias against Nick for not being Welsh fits in with a desire to submit Wales to English rule again defeats me.
To lose one Conservative leader in three months might be unfortunate. To lose two smacks of carelessness. But to lose three...?
He has a point, but it's one that applies equally to Rhodri Morgan as it does to Nick Bourne. Both men lost the elections for leader of their party held via a one member one vote ballot of party members (or in Rhodri's case an electoral college including an OMOV vote, but regrettably not an OMOV ballot of all political levy payers in Labour affiliated unions). When the elected leaders (Alun Michael & Rod Richards) were forced out neither of their replacements sought a similar mandate from the membership.
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