Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Welsh Tories focus on Europe poll

By Phil Parry
BBC News

David Cameron
Conservative leader David Cameron will be among the speakers

Conservatives have gathered in Cardiff with their eyes fixed firmly on the European elections.

Leader David Cameron, shadow chancellor George Osborne, and four other shadow cabinet members will address the Welsh spring conference.

A show of unity will be key after a controversial reshuffle in Wales.

The Conservatives are expecting 300 delegates at the Swalec Stadium in Sophia Gardens, the second time their conference has been there.

Mr Cameron will speak on Sunday morning, while shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, party chairman Eric Pickles, justice spokesman Dominic Grieve and work and pensions spokeswoman Theresa May will also address the conference over the weekend.

The Conservatives have had something of a revival in Wales since the early years of Tony Blair's government, when they lost all their Welsh seats.

In Wales they now have three MPs, 12 Assembly Members, and one MEP.

Shift focus

There is confidence in Tory ranks they will gain a second Welsh seat at the European elections in June.

The candidates on their list are headed by Kay Swinburne and Evan Price who are speaking to conference about Wales' role in Europe.

Other candidates for the Tories are Emma Greenow and David Chipp.

They will also be hoping the conference will shift focus away from speculation about divisions within the party.

A reshuffle of the Tory front bench team in the Welsh assembly last month saw Jonathan Morgan and William Graham leave their jobs as health spokesman and chief whip.

There have also been continued questions about Nick Bourne's leadership of the Welsh Conservatives.

He was engulfed in controversy over his expense claim for an iPod and a trouser press in December. Mr Bourne and fellow Conservative AM Alun Cairns, who also claimed for an iPod, later donated money to charity.

Mr Bourne will be giving the closing speech to the conference on Sunday at midday.

BBC Two Wales covers the conference on Saturday from 1400 - 1600 GMT and it will be on on S4C from 0955 to 1155 GMT on Saturday.



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