Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

'Trust' message at Conservatives' Llandudno conference

John Stevenson
By John Stevenson
North Wales political correspondent

David Cameron
David Cameron says the country needs a change of direction

How often will the Conservatives gaze out to the horizon, as they trudge down the prom in Llandudno towards Venue Cymru this weekend?

If and when they do, they will certainly see the offshore wind turbines at Rhyl Flats and North Hoyle.

But the next general election is now on the political horizon, and is only a matter of weeks away, even if the date so far remains unspecified.

David Cameron's party are in town for their Welsh spring conference but, in reality, this will be the party's pre-election rally and pep talk for the troops.

An eve-of-conference message from the party's shadow Wales secretary Cheryl Gillan sets out themes for the weekend. She could not be clearer.

Bluntly, she says that Wales cannot afford five more years of Gordon Brown and Labour.

She argues that voters have a chance to vote for change in an election which would determine the future for a generation.

Mrs Gillan also called for the election campaign to be conducted on the issues affecting Wales and criticised the "sour and corrosive political rhetoric we have heard from [Welsh Secretary] Peter Hain and Labour".

Venue Cymru, Llandudno
The conference theme will be "why not trust the Tories?"

She said: "Labour talk of choice at this election. We agree. It is a choice between five more years of Gordon Brown or change under David Cameron and the Conservatives.

"That's why Wales can't afford another five years of Gordon Brown and Labour. And that's why at this election it is so important people vote for change under the Conservatives."

The Tories meet in Llandudno in the new constituency of Aberconwy.

It is a microcosm of the challenge faced by Mr Cameron in so many marginal seats across the UK.

The pundits have confidently predicted it to be a two-way fight. This analysis ignores a number of crucial questions.

What happens to the Labour vote? Will that vote stay at home as it did with such devastating effect on Labour in the European elections?

Will Labour succeed in conjuring up fears of a Conservative victory and thereby energise a last-minute Labour turnout?

Crucially, if the Labour vote does disintegrate, where will that vote go?

Cheryl Gillan
Cheryl Gillan criticised Labour's "corrosive political rhetoric"

The Conservative lead over Labour in the polls has been shrinking and the row over Tory money man Lord Ashcroft's precise tax status has re-emerged over the political horizon.

Disarray over aspects of UK policy have not helped either. Yes, there are murmurings off stage.

In Anglesey, for instance, the party machine which delivered the island to the Tories back in 1979 has all but disintegrated.

Local activists were privately up in arms by the recent selection (some claim "imposition") of an outsider to stand instead of the previous candidate, the disgruntled Trevor Jones.

Add to the mix the spectre of Peter Rogers, the former Tory assembly member for North Wales, standing and it does not bode well for Mr Cameron's party on Anglesey.

"Why not trust the Tories?" will be David Cameron's clear theme in Llandudno this weekend.

Almost three-quarters of a century ago, Aneurin Bevan published a virulently anti-Conservative polemic and that too was called "Why not trust the Tories?"

Written under the pseudonym Celticus, Bevan argued against the Conservative case, pointing out that "when people hear the right words, they are apt to think that the right actions will follow".

Will David Cameron succeed this weekend in showing that his words and those of his party are far more than slogans?

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