Warrenball works

One senior Welsh Conservative told me the party's general election strategy was like "Warrenball".

This is a reference to the tactics deployed by the Welsh rugby coach Warren Gatland which are brutal, uncomplicated and unwavering, even when there may be doubts.

Rugby purists are often not happy with the style but it has delivered two grand slams.

And in political terms, it has delivered electoral success for the Tories and a remarkable night in Wales.

They ambushed Labour in Gower, defeated one of the most experienced and respected Welsh Labour MPs in the Vale of Clwyd, and easily saw off a huge ground operation by Labour in Cardiff North.


And all of this was accomplished against a back drop of five years of public sector cuts.

Some trade secrets are starting to emerge. The Conservatives delivered targeted messages to voters on issues that mattered to them in the marginals.

The Welsh Conservative Party chairman Jonathan Evans said that in contrast Labour were talking about the bedroom tax in Cardiff North when it only affected a few hundred people in the constituency.

Labour faced the perfect storm in the Vale of Clwyd in James Davies, a young GP delivering a message of problems in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and more broadly across the NHS.

I suspect that will become the template adopted by the Conservatives in the assembly election which now more than ever is looking like it will be dominated by health.


And there must be questions for Labour to answer over the loss of Gower when they failed to predict a tight result, even when the Conservatives had launched their Welsh campaign there and Byron Davies had hosted a stream of ministers making the journey down the M4.

Throughout the campaign, Labour had talked about winning seats like Carmarthen East and Carmarthen West, when it appears they should have been more focused on protecting seats they already held.

But the big point of debate for Labour will inevitably be about whether they lurched to the left too much and vacated the centre ground which brought them so much success under Tony Blair.

It was interesting that within hours of the defeat Carwyn Jones called for a more pro-business message in future.

At times there appeared to be a mismatch between the kind of economy depicted by Owen Smith with its zero-hours contracts and food banks and the usual message from Carwyn Jones about record levels of inward investment.


It was something we pressed them on in the campaign and, in public at least, they dismissed the point.

Plaid have been putting a brave face on the result but privately they must be hugely disappointed.

Not only did they fail to win any more seats but on a night when the Liberal Democrats were trounced in Cardiff Central and Brecon and Radnorshire, Plaid failed to run Mark Williams close in Ceredigion. Will there ever be a better time to win that seat?

And in their other target of Llanelli, Labour actually increased their majority.

Of course Plaid can console themselves with the thought that they didn't suffer as much as the Lib Dems who now have to try to pick themselves up in time for the assembly election.