Last week felt heavy. There was a lot of news, a lot of drama and a lot of upset write Gwydir co-editors Kirsty Lewis and James Wallice.
But of course, everything was rightly overshadowed by the inauguration of President Biden. His powerful message of unity has struck a chord across the world, as we all grapple with our own disruption, division and the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Biden began his term in office by stating that “unity is the path forward”. We could not agree more.
Politics has always played an important role in our Welsh culture and heritage. We are a small nation with a powerful voice. We are lucky to be represented by politicians who always speak up for what they believe is right. Nowhere is that more true than in the Welsh Conservative Party. We have an ever-growing membership and an ever-growing number of talented politicians that represent us.
The Welsh Conservative Senedd Group is small, and most party members will be very familiar with each of the faces and personalities. We have a hardworking and proactive team that have regularly put aside personal interests in the name of unity. This is certainly true of Paul Davies.
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.
However, today marks an important milestone for this Labour-led Welsh Government; it’s 100 days until the Senedd elections. As Conservatives, our messaging is clear; our targets are set. For over two decades, the Welsh Government has been allowed to bumble along, pulling the wool over voter’s eyes and pretending that so many of the problems that exist today are the fault of Westminster. But the sad circumstances of the pandemic have shone a spotlight on the powers held by Labour in Cardiff Bay, and how inefficient and ineffective they are at managing them.
We’ve watched them evade this newfound scrutiny and we’ve all been angered by their approach, whether it be a lack of support for business or a lack of urgency given to the vaccine rollout. To put it simply, enough is enough.
These past twelve months have been difficult and for many, resulted in tragic consequences. But we Welsh Conservatives have a collective fire raging inside of us.
We’re sick of Zoom association meetings, email fundraisers and the inability to get out and knock on doors for our fantastic candidates. With a brilliant team and Andrew RT Davies at the helm, we can take the fight to Drakeford and we can win. Andrew has a track record as a strong leader, he’s popular with members and has done a brilliant job in holding the Government to account as Shadow Health Minister. We all know he has what it takes to make an outstanding First Minister.
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. We face a Cardiff Bay establishment made up of an overly biased media which is supported by a cabal of political commentators who have sought to fortify 22 years of Welsh Labour governance.
Indeed, the whole reason we started Gwydir seven months ago, was because our voices as Conservatives in Wales felt suppressed, undervalued and diminished.
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. 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.
As members, we could learn a lot. We must learn a lot.
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.
This will be a tough election – a tough year. But the stakes have never been higher. The choices are clear: more division, disrespect and damage. Or hope, integrity and real change.
It’s time for the Welsh Conservatives to reunite and take the fight to Labour.
Kirsty Lewis is the co-editor of Gwydir and a Senior Researcher in the House of Commons. James Wallice is the co-editor of Gwydir.