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