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Exclusive: Welsh Conservative leader accused of ‘turning on his MSs’

04 Oct 2023 4 minute read
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies. Picture by Matthew Horwood.

Emily Price

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies has been accused of ‘turning on his MSs’ as he scrambles ‘to get his house in order’ amid mounting criticism of his conduct from both inside and outside the party.

A number of well placed Tory sources have told Nation.Cymru that the current mood among the party has become ‘apprehensive and tense’ following a number of negative news stories criticising the Tory leader’s behaviour.

Speaking to Nation.Cymru exclusively, one source alleged that MSs are regularly “strong-armed” by the leader of the opposition for not toeing his line and as a result the working environment has become “hostile”.

The source expressed a wish to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions for speaking out against Mr Davies.

Details have been given to Nation.Cymru regarding a number of instances in recent weeks in which the leader of the opposition has rebuked MSs.

One MS has allegedly been reprimanded by Mr Davies because they had been “too silent” during the 20mph default speed limit rollout which the Welsh Conservatives have vehemently opposed.

The source also alleged that Mr Davies had threatened to remove the whip from another MS during a heated exchange over an amendment the leader of the opposition hadn’t himself pre-approved.

A third MS is also reportedly in the firing line for not adhering to Mr Davies’ rules.

“Personal brand”

The anonymous source told Nation.Cymru: “This is all about party fatigue. It comes through on how leadership influences different lines and how leadership controls what messages MSs should push out.

“The mood in the party has just become complacent as MSs try to toe Andrew’s line. Everyone is very aware that Andrew wants things done in a certain way and straying outside of that will result in some pretty firm discussions from the leader.

“Andrew is able to strong-arm people the way that he likes it. More recently it’s become a tad more obvious and the mood in the group office has become a lot more tense. I think Andrew feels threatened because of the media coverage he’s had recently. It places him in a difficult position where he always has to be on the defensive instead of setting the agenda.

“To continuously have to defend yourself is obviously a difficult thing to do especially when the criticism being received is so intense. Andrew can be a really lovely guy but his style of politics he’s filtering through is one that not many people like. It’s hostile and it doesn’t provide any vision.

“The media image of Andrew is definitely proportionate given what comes out of his office these days. I think Andrew is feeling threatened by these murmurs that people could potentially be looking to depose him and that’s why he’s trying to get his house in order.”

Another well placed Tory source who also wished to remain anonymous told Nation.Cymru that the leader of the Welsh Conservatives doesn’t have any close allies among the party’s MSs.

They said: “With the 20mph roll out, for the Welsh Conservatives it’s been a bit of a disaster and it’s become a culture war. Using the word ‘blanket’ has made it a wider issue as to whether the Tories can be trusted or not. But there are consequences for MSs who don’t fall into line.

“With the culture war stuff, it’s not based on any logic, it’s just good for Andrew’s personal brand.

“Sometimes Andrew will tell MSs not do something – then he just goes ahead and does it himself anyway. Andrew often doesn’t tell MSs what he plans to raise in the chamber and sometimes doesn’t even decide what to ask at FMQs until he’s on the stairs going in.

“He has a great memory when it comes to figures and other things so he’s able to just blag it.”

Twitter

Several sources also told Nation.Cymru they were uncomfortable with the content being published on Mr Davies’ social media channels.

One person said: “If you go along the line of toxic social media engagement, it creates a whole other host of issues. The stage we are at now is people are just blaming each other rather than acknowledging that this is not healthy.

“It’s difficult to tell on Twitter (X) what comes from Andrew and what comes from his senior advisor, George Carroll who puts tweets out on Andrew’s behalf. It’s difficult to tell when it’s him [Mr Davies] or George – but I don’t think Andrew really cares.”

Nation.Cymru approached Mr Davies for a comment regarding the details we had uncovered in our investigation but he did not respond.


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Richard
Richard
6 months ago

ARTD is actualy a nice person to those who know him im told. At a dinner party or social function – or in the street / when the press are jot around…he can still show his genuine caring side. His current public profile – built on twitter, daily press handouts and when a camera appears just shows how things can change. My many contacts ajd yes friends in his party – mostly on the deflated moderate wing reflect the article comments above…..and they are sick of having to defend the increasing outburts, U turns and attack dog persona appearing in… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

So was Mark Drakeford confident that Fat Shanks and Sunak would destroy, hide or simply claim they had thrown away their whatsapp phones and the crucial information they contained, illegally I might add, and any thing relevant to himself they may have contained. It is most unwise to trust any politician ever…

Last edited 6 months ago by Mab Meirion
Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago

Not surprised. I was hoping that when a new leader was chosen, they would get someone good in. Instead we got ARTD. Beholden to No10 and not Wales. Supports Braverman and the PM that put here there and supports the awful language she uses. Supported a PM that tanked the nation, supported Boris who partied when people were dying. Endorse crank TV stations and their terrible views. Seemingly anything to ingratiate with No10. Speech at the conference (same conference pushing many lies and hoaxes). We need good opposition, we need decent opposition, we wont get it beholden to No10. Drop… Read more »

Benjiman Angwin
Benjiman Angwin
6 months ago

Andrew sat and spoke with me a few years ago. He was nice to me. He was s good fit in the Johnson Era, and the wild west of early social media. Lord Nick Bourne rightly said Welsh Tories need to stand for something again, and that means a new era that is distinctly Welsh.

Dr Andrew Potts
Dr Andrew Potts
6 months ago

I wrote an opinion piece for Nation.Cymru on 11/8/22 To become a viable opposition, the Welsh Conservatives must shake off their anti-Welsh and anti-devolution image (nation.cymru) and since then things have gone further backwards. I pointed out then that opposition for the sake of it is not what a democracy needs: if you disagree, say so and offer your alternative policy. This now smacks of ‘personality politics’, minus the personalities. At this rate Jane Dodds might get some LibDem company after the next election.

Blinedig
Blinedig
6 months ago

What do you expect though. There is no such thing as a Welsh Conservative (an oxymoron though maybe), but on election materials they try to make out there is such a party. There is not,

Mark Owen
Mark Owen
6 months ago

Every day the similarity between RT and El Duce ( and not just the physical attributes) get keener, fist thumping right wing rhetoric and the demonsing of anyone or anything which would be called social justice. If this the best Welsh conservatives can do, then they cease to be an effective opposition and will remain merely agit pop rebels without a cause other than spreading fear, hate and misinformation.

Marc
Marc
6 months ago

He’s toast

Annibendod
Annibendod
6 months ago

It’s not the first time his behaviour has led to him losing the confidence of his MS’s is it?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

Can someone explain to this Bovine Blunderer what he and his mates have been part of…

Farage and Patel twist and shout their way through the Danse Macabre…

Bully XL Braverman and Rishi ‘Modi Boy’ Sunak are going to roast England on a stake…

They are going to get Medieval on your families, believe me…

David Olusoga’s great grandchildren will make a Hologram in four parts out of this last decade and a half if there is any life left on these Islands, it will be called…

The Fall, Crash and Burn of Poor Old England…

Last edited 6 months ago by Mab Meirion
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies is a political shock-jock. Plain & simple. Nothing he ever does is ever positive or constructive for Wales. Am I surprised his leadership is in question? Not really. His gaggle of self-servative Wales-hating reprobates in the Senedd are getting cold feet because they know there’s an Ill wind on the horizon at Westminster and know their moment in the sun will come to an abrupt end next Senedd election and fear he will drag them down like Captain Ahab to the murky depts of despair.. Good riddance, I say. Wales deserves better than these… Read more »

James
James
6 months ago

If RT loses his leadership position, he will jump to abolish within 3 months

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago
Reply to  James

Yes, when it comes to hating Wales, he’s in the Rob Roberts league.

Richard 1
Richard 1
6 months ago

the 20mph speed limit … which the Welsh Conservatives have vehemently opposed“: isn’t it true that they only began to oppose it when they saw how the petition was exploding?

Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago

Out of ideas, and out of his depth. Let’s help him out of politics for his own good (But mainly ours)

Charles
Charles
6 months ago

Sounds like a spot of Fascism to me.

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