Sunday, 31 May 2009

Changing of the guard?

Posted on Bevan blog on 31 May 2009

Not content with stretching his goodbye by six months, it seems that the ground is being prepared for Rhodri Morgan to stay on even longer and fulfill his wish to be First Minister to greet the Ryder Cup when it comes to Wales next summer.

Leaders do hate to leave.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly is similarly digging his heals in. Nick Bourne’s critics in his own group are numerous, but there is no consensus on an alternative candidate.

Soundings have been underway for some time. Darren Millar, Andrew RT Davies and Jonathan Morgan have all been canvassed as alternatives, but the rules for bringing about a leadership challenge are unclear. And more importantly no single candidate has enough support to launch a credible bid.

So it seems the favoured tactic is to destabilise Nick Bourne.

In an extraordinary speech last week Jonathan Morgan accused his one-time ally of losing “the moral, ethical and political capacity to show leadership”.

The convention of coded attacks seems to have been suspended by the restless AM for Cardiff North. His sweeping denouncement was aimed at “Politicians who have claimed inappropriately or illegitimately, whether it be phantom mortgages, iPods, plasma televisions, trouser-presses or duck islands for their ponds”.

In the current environment it would be hard for anyone to disagree. Except perhaps his own leader and his old friend the Parliamentary candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan. As John Dixon points out attacking a third of the group you hope to lead may not be the cleverest politics.

But it is a bold move. I argued at the time of his departure from the Opposition frontbench that having opted against going to Westminster it was unlikely that he would content himself for long with Chairing the Audit Committee. And so it has proved.

However, it does beg the question that if the leadership of his own party is so fundamentally weakened, what’s he going to do about it?

Well, he going to give another speech that much we do know. Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre is hosting a lecture from him on June 15th modestly titled "Welsh Conservatism and how the 2015 Assembly election was won."

It’ll be an interesting speech. But talk is cheap. His peroration last week was: “We must seize the initiative”.

Lets see if he does.

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