Wales politics

Welsh Conservatives appeal to 'alienated' Plaid voters

Conservatives will urge Plaid Cymru voters to consider how closely their beliefs match those of the Tories.

Andrew RT Davies, who leads the Conservatives in the Welsh assembly, will make the appeal at a party rally in St Asaph, Denbighshire, on Sunday.

Conservatives believe new Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will take her party to the left and alienate some traditional Plaid supporters.

The rally comes ahead of council elections on 3 May.

Tory strategists are hoping to win a majority of council seats in Conwy and Denbighshire - a county where they currently share power with other councillors - and keep control of the Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.

They are also aiming to consolidate their position in Newport, a council they run with the Liberal Democrats.

At the last assembly election, the Conservatives replaced Plaid as the second biggest party in the Senedd.

The Tories hold 14 of the assembly's 60 seats, with Plaid on 11.

Their rally, in Wales' newest city, replaces the annual Welsh Conservative conference, which was due to be held in Llandudno last month but was cancelled at a fortnight's notice due to cost.

Mr Davies, will promise voters greater "transparency," lower council taxes and more local decision-making if they put Conservatives in charge in May.

Appealing directly to Plaid Cymru supporters, he is expected to say: "If you're a patriot, if you're proud of your community, if you're proud of your heritage and your culture and your language, then your beliefs are our beliefs in the Welsh Conservative Party."

Mr Davies told the Sunday Supplement programme on BBC Radio Wales that Wales had falling prosperity and educational standards, with £500m taken out of the NHS, and cancer patients denied 24 drugs that were available in the rest of the UK.

He said Conservatives would fight in every local authority across Wales for the first time this year.

'Public empowerment'

"We're going to have a record number of candidates out in the field working tirelessly on behalf of their communities.

"I think it would be foolish to try and prejudge which way the electorate will go because obviously there are still another six to seven weeks of campaigning, but it won't be through the want of trying and the inability of people to find Conservative candidates.

"The messages we are taking [are] about public empowerment and making sure we get our schools and health service working, freezing council tax and greater transparency.

"That surely is what people want in their everyday lives. When they pay their council tax they want to know that money is being spent wisely and carefully to improve the quality of life in their communities."

The rally will also be addressed by Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan.

Speaking at the Scottish Conservative conference in Troon on Friday, Mrs Gillan warned her party not to underestimate the SNP ahead of a referendum on Scottish independence.

She defended the Union between Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, arguing it provided "strength, security, freedom and prosperity" and is expected to pursue a similar theme in St Asaph.

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