The Welsh Conservative conference is usually held in Llangollen in March. This time it was in Newtown in May because post-pandemic availability meant the usual set up wasn’t available.
So you may forgive Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservative group in the Senedd, forgetting where he was. When he stood on the stage he not only forgot the name of the usual host town but stumbled and eventually just gave up and said “north Wales” and yet the limited number of delegates in the hall gave him a round of applause.
The South Wales Central AM told the conference audience that he’d had a “Four Weddings and a Funeral” journey to Newtown, setting off in a Mini and only just making his speech slot. He used his speech to talk about the policy areas where he wants to stand apart from Westminster, speaking about how he wants St David’s Day to be a bank holiday and HS2 funding to come to Wales.
He said he wanted Welsh Conservatives to be distinct from their UK counterparts, saying: “Much like our world famous Welsh choirs, our unique Conservative voice in Wales must be distinct. Whilst at the same time be in harmony with our political brothers and sisters across the UK –sometimes the notes may sound different to reflect the needs of Wales and our people. Because Wales, and Welshness don’t belong exclusively to Labour. So together, let’s pull on that red jersey. Let’s show Wales that it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s unleash Wales’ potential.”
Mr Davies rattled through the UK Government achievements over living wage increases the council tax rebate tapered relief for Universal Credit. He made jokes about Labour and didn’t miss out the “lone” Liberal Democrat and his group’s opposition to Senedd expansion.
Mr Davies also continued his criticism of Welsh Labour’s Government in Cardiff Bay. “It was Labour who told us again and again that things were done differently here in Wales. During the pandemic and we all experienced those differences. The cruel five-mile rule. The heartless two-week delay in introducing testing in care homes that cost so many lives. And what was the result of this approach taken by Labour which we were told kept Wales safe? The highest Covid death rate in the UK. And don’t just take my word for it – that’s according to the ONS.”