Tories take to the stage

Timing is everything in politics, and the Conservative spring conference in Cardiff comes at an extraordinary moment.

The prospects for another Scottish independence referendum and the related subject of the impending Brexit negotiations will inevitably dominate discussions.

Expect talk of the strength of the union to be a major theme in the set-piece speeches.

After all, at a time when a trip to Scotland would be considered counter productive, and with Northern Irish politics in such a state of flux, where better than Cardiff for the Prime Minister to come to talk about the importance of the UK.

There is also the small matter of the U-turn on rises in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed and the Tory fine for breaking election rules to chew over.

Above the din

And all squeezed into a highly-concentrated day of speeches and debate.

Amid all this noise, will any specifically Welsh issues raise their heads above the din?

If any do, then the smart money is that one will be the prospect of the Swansea city deal being signed off by the UK Government.

Sources tell me this is now imminent despite concerns from the UK Government last week that more work was needed on it.

The question appears to be whether enough progress has been made for Theresa May to be in a position make the commitment in her speech to the conference or hold off for a few more days.

Suck it all up

One thing we can be certain of is that leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies will enjoy this Welsh spring conference more than the last one in Llangollen when David Cameron stood up and delivered a speech a matter of yards from Mr Davies (probably Wales' most high-profile farmer and Brexiteer) to tell delegates that Brexit would decimate the farming industry.

A clearly furious Andrew Davies had to suck it all up and spent the rest of the weekend fielding questions about how awkward the situation had been for him.

The only potential friction this time round was going to be Mr Davies' unhappiness with the NI rise for the self-employed but even that has been removed.

Mr Davies will want to see a better result in Wales in May in the council elections than last year's assembly campaign which saw them fall back.

The blame for the 2016 result has been laid firmly on the door of divisions over Brexit, and undoubtedly he would have faced far more personal pressure as Welsh leader if the EU referendum vote had not gone in his favour.

This time round the challenge will be to unite the Conservatives with a strong council performance in places like the Vale of Glamorgan and Conwy, which they no longer control but where they have been the main party in the past.

Although with all due respect to the future make-up of local authority HQs in places like Conwy and Barry, this is a conference addressed by a Prime Minister with an in-tray that includes not breaking up the UK at a time when we break off relations with the rest of the EU.

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