“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” ― Lenin
Many of us prayed for an end to Brexit if only to rediscover a sense of normality in politics. How wrong we were. Politics has now turned into the EastEnders Christmas special with plot upon sub-plot, challenge upon adversity, misery upon agony, are all heaped together to create the perfect storm of utter desperation, panic and loathing.
So complex and indigestible has the sheer weight of news been this week that even the Budget came and went with just twenty-four hours focus. Which is quite an achievement really when you consider the Go Rishi extravaganza was probably the most important budget since George Osborne’s first, and certainly the biggest giveaway since Gordon Brown skulked around Number 11 rather than Number 10. With eye watering levels of borrowing, and eye-catching policies from plastics to pubs, it was a tour de force in pressing the political reset button.
Which is exactly what happened in Llangollen last weekend. In any ordinary week this diatribe would just focus on Paul Davies’ effective rebrand of the direction of the Welsh Conservatives. He basically in one speech remoulded the priorities of his party in a way that no other leader has ever managed. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another example where a party leader’s speech to a Welsh conference has generated such an impact and cut through so quite so much. Yes, people noticed when Carwyn said he couldn’t stand the heat so he was going to vacate the kitchen back in 2018, but it wasn’t about the party, it was about him.
Paul Davies did something rather clever. Without more than a handful of new policies, he changed the tone of his party in Wales, and set a different electoral course. At no point did he talk about repatriating Assembly powers to Westminster, and he expressly ruled out abolishing the Assembly, but still the ultras on the other side of the debate started savaging in return. You can often judge your success by how much notice your enemies and opponents take of you. In this instance, everyone noticed. Welsh Conservatives 1, Everyone Else 0.
Which incidentally is what’s happening with Welsh conferences this year. CoVid has changed everything and will continue to reshape society, politics and priorities for the foreseeable future. In the short term, some of us suddenly have a lot more weekends available. We can even go to the rugby. But we can’t go to even the Welsh Lib Dem conference. So, enjoy a few more free weekends. And try not to die or kill anyone.