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Call for unity within the Tories following Senedd lockdown drinks debacle

27 Jan 2021 3 minute read
West Clwyd and Aberconwy Count for the National Assembly Election 5 May 2016. Darren Millar (middle) and Janet Finch-Saunders (left); both elected as Conservative AMs. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

There has been a call for unity within the Tory party following the Senedd lockdown drinks debacle.

In an editorial on the conservative website, Gwydir, its co-editors, Kirsty Lewis and James Wallice, hit out at “anonymous quotes and briefings” after it was alleged that politicians drank alcohol on Senedd premises, days after the ban on serving drinks in pubs took effect.

The allegations led to the resignation of the Conservative leader in the Senedd, Paul Davies, who was involved in the incident, and his replacement with Andrew RT Davies.

There were anonymous briefings against Paul Davies from a number of Conservative Senedd candidates, which called on him to step down in the wake of the revelations.

Following his resignation the former leader said that he was “truly sorry” for his actions, and that they had “damaged trust” with the Welsh people. Conservative MS Darren Millar, who was also involved, has also said that he is stepping down from his frontbench role, as has his colleague Nick Ramsay MS.

The article on Gwydir says: “Being a Welsh Conservative member has always felt like being part of a family. For moments last week, that family felt fractured.

“We must not forget that we are only effective as one strong team. It is vital we stick together.

“Remember – the other parties want nothing more than to see us arguing amongst ourselves; throwing around anonymous quotes and briefings; and leaking to the press.”

‘Difficult time’

It adds: “Our MSs set us an example by unanimously showing support for Paul during a difficult time. They showed the exact same support in unanimously backing Andrew to lead us into this election.

“It has undoubtedly been a difficult week for everyone involved, but Paul has once again shown that for him, the Welsh Conservative Party always comes first.

“In 2018, he ran a strong, authentic leadership campaign and from day one, has proven himself to be a genuine, hardworking and thoughtful leader.

“Nobody has a bad word to say about Paul – which can’t be said for most politicians – and the outpouring of support shown for him in the last few days demonstrates the deep respect the membership has for him.

“100 days from now, Labour will have been in power for 22 years. Each day Wales remains under their rule is a day too long. It’s our duty to defeat them, but to do this we must show unity.”

An internal investigation has established that alcohol was consumed by five people at the Senedd during a lockdown.

According to a statement by Llywydd, Elin Jones MS, four of these are elected members, and the Standards Commissioner will now investigate to see of the Code of Conduct was broken.

It has been concluded that a possible breach of regulations occurred and the matter has also been referred to Cardiff Council.

The Labour MS Alun Davies was also involved in the indecent and he has been suspended by his party while an investigation takes place.

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