The Tories in the National Assembly and their crop of Welsh based MPs in Westminster seem to be treading very different paths. At Assembly level they are intent on ‘Welshyfying’ themselves – probably taking a note out of the New Labour handbook in terms of triangulation. The strategy is partly motivated to try and step on Plaid territory. The Tories over the years have been great re-inventors. From the day’s of Robert Peel and the Tamworth manifesto, they have made seismic shifts to stay relevant. Peels reform of the party was motivated by the 1832 Act which introduced some remnants of democracy to the UK. Disraeli followed suit with further changes in response to the two other electoral reform acts of the last part of the 19th century.
It’s an interesting strategy, but at the end of the day if the electorate want an all encompassing Wales first party, why vote for the Tories when you can vote for the real thing in Plaid. The clear danger for them is that they will only appeal to a small right wing element who can’t stomach Plaid’s determination to create a more egalitarian society.
The big problem that the leadership of the Tories face in the Assembly is that their Welsh based MPs are decidedly off message. David Cornock blogs that Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Penfro, does not support a St David’s day bank holiday. Their Westminster group if anything are rebelling against the Assembly group – intent on maintaining the nasty right wing, little Englander approach which we all know is the core of the Tories anyway.
What the Tories need to understand is that the fight for greater Welsh autonomy and the fight for rights for the language and culture of our nation are all intertwined with left leaning politics. The left has always been the driving force for change and those fighting for the rights of the minority.
With the Tories in the Assembly apparently jettisoning their raison d’etre – ie the party of unionism personified – you have to ask what’s the point of the Tories in Wales?