Andrew RT Davies MS has been appointed as the new Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament – for the second time.
It comes as former leader Paul Davies resigned on Saturday after drinking with other politicians in the Senedd, four days into a Wales-wide alcohol ban in licensed premises.
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “Becoming leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd once again is a great honour and privilege, and I’m pleased to enjoy the unanimous support of my colleagues to take us forward after a difficult few days for us all.
“On behalf of the Group I want to pay tribute to Paul Davies for his service as leader. Paul is not only a colleague but a trusted friend, who has served his constituents and party with distinction, and will continue to do so.
“There is urgent work in front of all of us and our immediate focus will be continuing to hold the Labour administration in the Senedd to account on vital issues such as the vaccine rollout, and fighting May’s election alongside our excellent slate of candidates and dedicated volunteers.
“We are in a moment like no other, and the COVID-19 pandemic has sadly only served to shine a spotlight on the challenges in people’s everyday lives; challenges that have been made all the harder by twenty of Welsh Labour Government failure.
“From our fragile economy to ever increasing NHS waiting lists, people in Wales have been badly let down by successive Labour administrations. Let me be clear; devolution isn’t the issue, it is the socialists in the Labour Party, and Wales deserves better.
“In just over 100 days, the Welsh public will head to the ballot box to decide on the future they want for our country and in the coming weeks and months the Welsh Conservatives will put forward a positive plan to get Wales moving again and build back our country better than ever.
“This will be in tough election during a tough time for our country and whereas other parties want to use this period to divide and separate, we’ll seek to unite our country and deliver a strong voice for Wales, in a strong United Kingdom.”
Chairman of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Senedd, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said:
“Following a meeting of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Senedd this morning, I’m pleased to confirm that Andrew RT Davies has been endorsed unanimously as our new leader in the Senedd.
“As Chairman of the Group, I want to say thank you to Paul Davies for his immense efforts in the post since 2018. Paul played a key role in our record-breaking General Election in 2019, whilst setting the groundwork ahead of May’s Senedd election.
“Our attention now turns to May and taking the fight to the Labour Party.”
Welsh Conservative leader criticises Cardiff Bay Government’s £150k spend on ‘woke’ jobs
The leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies has criticised the Labour-run Government in Cardiff Bay after it’s claimed they spent £150,000 on four diversity officers last year.
The spend has lead to accusations that they are more interested in “woke” issues than dealing with everyday problems like the cost-of-living.
A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives revealed that “there are four staff in roles which have responsibility solely or predominantly for diversity issues in the Welsh Government”. Supported by colleagues across the organisation, the total sum spent on salaries for these staff during 2021-2022 was £151,436.62.
The figure only includes salaries and does not include other use of public money for the roles such as employer national insurance, pension contributions, and resources like computers.
The grades, salary ranges, and average salaries for the pay bands of the four staff are:
- Team Support: Salary range £21,300-£24,630; Average is £22,963
- Part-time Executive Officer: Salary range £25,860-£29,430; Average is £27,370 (Full-time)
- Senior Executive Officer: Salary range £40,100-£47,470; Average is £43,437
- Grade 7: Salary range £51,380-£61,440; Average is £56,072
However, the Welsh Government Employer Equality Report for 2020/21, released last month, revealed that pass rates for Fixed Term Appointment schemes in its civil service were lower for:
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants compared to White (12% compared to 18%);
- applicants from a minority sexual orientation compared to heterosexual (11% to 18%);
- and disabled applicants compared to not disabled (15% to 18%).
It admitted: “Overall (as an average across all schemes) we, generally, did not meet the new targets agreed in 2021”.
The Welsh Government workforce by race is 91% white and only 3% declared themselves to be of a different ethnicity. 6% did not declare or preferred not to say. The report also revealed that fewer than 200 of the 2,700 external applications to work in the Welsh Government were from non-white people.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “£150,000 is not going to solve the cost-of-living crisis – but spending money on redundant, woke jobs shows a complete lack of perspective and priority within the Labour Government when it comes to spending public money.
“Not only that, it seems that having diversity officers is not producing positive results, with any progress being very slow.
“I think spending this much money on this many people to tell the Labour-run Welsh Government that they should hire people based on demographic characteristics rather than on merit and the content of their character suggests something is deeply wrong within its recruitment practices, or that it is more concerned with virtue-signalling than achieving actual results.”
(Lead image: Welsh Conservatives)
Review of locomotive replica amid slave trade links branded “wokeness getting out of control”
A decision to review a replica of the first steam-powered locomotive in Wales over claims it was linked to the slave trade has been branded “utterly preposterous” by the Welsh Conservatives.
The National Museum Wales could relabel Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, which was used in the first steam-powered rail journey in 1804, to highlight slave trade links.
Officials at the Museum admitted there were no direct links between the Trevithick locomotive and the slave trade, but they said the use of the invention is “rooted in colonialism and racism.”
The museum has confirmed the Trevithick replica, which is on display in the Waterfront Museum in Swansea, would be subject to the Charter for Decolonising audit.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Tom Giffard MS, said: “Threatening to relabel a replica locomotive created by someone who had no direct links to the slave trade is utterly preposterous.
“This is just another example of wokeness getting out of control, and it appears that the museum has well and truly lost the plot if they go ahead with this.
“Fantastic pieces of work such as Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, which was used in the first steam-powered rail journey, should be celebrated – not punished.”
Call for Food Summit in Wales as Ukraine crisis triggers supply worries
The Leader of the Opposition in the Senedd today called for a Food Summit to bring together industry leaders to agree a strategy to build resilience and security into Wales’ food supply chains.
Questioning the First Minister today, Andrew RT Davies MS highlighted that Ukraine produces a third of the world’s wheat exports, with the current conflict being waged there by Russia is endangering Wales’ food security.
Mr Davies added: “It’s not just wheat, but fertiliser and many other fundamental aspects of food production” that are under threat, with knock-on consequences for the abilities of British farmers to cultivate their own produce and price increases for consumers as wheat prices jump by a third.
This prompted the Welsh Conservative leader to ask the Cardiff Bay Government to convene a Food Summit “of farmers, processors, and retailers so they can inform the policy development work and outcomes of the Welsh Government so Wales can play its part in growing its food production base and play our part in overall food security goals of this country”, in light of Russian aggression.
The First Minister said he would instruct the Rural Affairs Minister to discuss such a summit with industry leaders following a UK Inter-ministerial meeting where they will ask for food security to be on the agenda.
Davies, who is also a farmer by trade, also quizzed Mark Drakeford if the forthcoming Agriculture Bill – the first of its kind in 75 years – would be significantly changed in light of the Ukrainian conflict.
The First Minister said in response: “The agriculture Bill will, of course, support the production of food by Welsh farmers, and the changing nature of the marketplace, the Member is right, needs to be taken into account in that”.
Commenting afterwards, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The barbaric Russian campaign against a sovereign and democratic Ukraine extends far beyond that country and it is important that the freedom-loving world prepares itself for the consequences.
“One of these is certainly food security because it is not just the crops of the bread basket of Europe that will be lost, but vital by-products like fertiliser that I know, as a farmer, is an essential part to food production.
“That’s why industry leaders from food retailers and processors to farming unions must assemble urgently in a landmark Food Summit to build resilience into our food supply chains.
“With the Agriculture Bill coming up, now is the time to respond to the conflict in Ukraine and deliver a strong future for Welsh food security with a long-term vision of self-sufficiency and free trade with other free countries, ending our reliance on those with leaders like Putin.”
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