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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 June, 2005, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
'Become more Welsh,' Tories told
Nick Bourne
Nick Bourne was a law professor becoming Welsh Tory leader
The leader of the Conservatives in Wales has warned that they must become more Welsh and follow a separate path to the party in the rest of the UK.

Nick Bourne said Tories must develop more "made-in-Wales" policies and show they were "not just a branch office".

The Tories won three Welsh seats at the election - their first since 1997 - but he said: "We still remain remote to too many parts of the electorate".

Mr Bourne called for a separate Welsh list of candidates for Westminster.

The importance of the community often makes Welsh needs different from those of our English neighbours
Nick Bourne
Mr Bourne, who leads the 11-strong Conservative group in the Welsh assembly, said his party had come a long way since losing all its MPs in Tony Blair's first general election win.

But he said Welsh Tories had to do more in both traditional Conservative strongholds "and those areas previously considered more hostile".

The Mid and West Wales AM said Tories remained a Unionist party "but the component parts of that union deserve separate attention".

Michael Howard
Michael Howard is the first Welsh-born UK Tory leader
"It was a major step forward to become known as the Welsh Conservative party, rather than the Conservative party in Wales," he said.

"Welsh representation on the UK (party) board in London ensures that Wales is at the centre of any discussions that affect the party at large. But it is also important that the party becomes more of an identifiably Welsh party."

Welsh Tories opposed devolution, and Mr Bourne headed the Just Say No campaign which almost prevented the assembly being set up.

But he has not only accepted devolution but also called for the assembly to gain law-making powers, in contrast to other leading Tories such as Shadow Welsh Secretary Bill Wiggin, who supports abolition.

Mr Bourne said the party had to recognise "there are instances where there is a need to do things differently in Wales," adding: "The importance of the community often makes Welsh needs different from those of our English neighbours."

"A greater emphasis on the 'Welsh' in Welsh Conservative does not make us less Conservative, but it does make us more Welsh."

He said his words were also aimed at the UK party. "In order for us to flourish and build on the foundations we have made, it does not hurt to flex our muscles a little and remind the UK party that we are not just a branch office.

"We represent the voice of a country, within the union. We must meet the needs of the Welsh people, within the framework of the union."

  • Lyndon Jones, of Gowerton, near Swansea, has been elected new chairman of the Welsh Conservative Party, replacing Carole Hyde, who has stood down after three years.

    Tories 'face hard work' ahead
    05 Mar 05 |  Wales

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