Andrew RT Davies: I will scrap Communities First

I've kicked the week off with the first in a series of interviews with the party leaders running every night this week on Wales Today.

First up was the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies in a pub near Caerphilly.

He told me for the first time that if he was in power he'd scrap Communities First, the Welsh Government's flagship anti-poverty scheme.

Instead, he'd replace it by funding projects directly.

The Tories have been critical of Communities First for a while now and they're not the first party to question its effectiveness, with strong hints of change from Plaid.


Andrew RT Davies also defended of the UK Government's decision to block attempts to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese steel, pointing to the possibility of a trade war and the danger to companies like Airbus looking to sell products to the Far East.

He takes a very different view on tariffs to those who, like him, are arguing for the UK to leave the EU.

Most on the leave side say a withdrawal would allow the UK to raise tariffs on Chinese steel significantly, but Mr Davies doesn't go down that path.

When it comes to the NHS, it's clear that the Conservatives will be looking to portray their commitment to protect the NHS budget as a cut above any spending priorities which the other parties pledge on health.

He will also try to make up for the fact that the party has yet to make up its mind on which route to favour for an M4 relief road, by insisting that whatever the decision, there will be action within a year.


There will obviously be more policy details in the manifesto but for now at least the Conservatives are facing a problem reminiscent of the Harold Macmillan quote when he was asked what's the most difficult thing about his job: "Events, dear boy, events."

First came the timing of the EU referendum, which threatened to dominate until the summer.

And now the steel crisis has come along.

Behind the scenes, the Tories will feel any day not spent talking about problems in the NHS in Wales is a day wasted on the assembly campaign trail.

The more distractions to that core message, the more difficult their job becomes and it would appear that events have conspired against them.


They are either going to hope the steel issues get dealt with very quickly, or re-think their strategy.

There's an argument to say that most people will recognise that the steel crisis is being caused by larger forces outside of Cardiff Bay, and as a result any advantages for a particular party will be cancelled out.

And it may not just be the Tories who need to consider its impact.

It was clear that riding off the back of announcements by the likes of Aston Martin and TVR, Labour was planning on going into the campaign on an economic development ticket.

That will now be a tougher message to get across in the face of severe problems for such a symbolic industry like steel.