1. ITV Report

Opposition parties come to terms with local election losses

Every Tuesday in the Assembly the three opposition parties hold press briefings which usually cover a wide range of matters. This week though there was only one main question which, with variations, was essentially, 'Why did you do so badly?'

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly, Andrew RT Davies repeated his claim set out in the leaked email I told you about last week that the party must 'develop and communicate a clear and concise Welsh Conservative message. That's been taken as not-so-veiled criticism of the leading role played in the Welsh campaign by Westminster-based Tories. Not so, says Mr Davies, it's the fact that no matter what they did or said, Welsh Conservatives were 'drowned out' by negative stories about the party at a UK level.

We failed to get the message across because of a difficult national background; we were drowned out. Some days the first ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of the news programmes were dominated by negative stories coming from Westminster. Here in Wales it was difficult for activists to be heard.

Mr Davies repeated his call for a more distinct Welsh party to emerge under a Welsh Conservative leader, but insisted that wasn't a reaction to the election results and to be fair he has previously set out that idea. But he described the next three years without any major elections as a 'golden opportunity' for the party in Wales to get its structures right. He'll face opposition to that from some Westminster colleagues but after just a year in the job, his focus is on the longer term.

There was also an admission from the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams that the party had suffered a backlash from voters angry at decisions taken by the UK coalition government and angry that the Lib Dems are part of that government. But she said that although the 'vast majority' of the party's lost votes last week could be 'attributed to London,' she said it would be 'lazy' to blame it all on UK matters and said the Welsh party must see what it could do better and why it managed to hold on in some places and not others. She said,

We need a proper analysis of what happened. There's no consistency to the results. If it was all about London, we'd have been wiped out everywhere and we weren't.

As for Plaid Cymru, it fell to Simon Thomas AM to field the difficult questions, including one about why his leader wasn't doing that particular job. His view of what went wrong with the party's campaign also acknowledged Labour's success:

People were very afraid, uncertain and they chose the emotional comfort blanket of Labour. Labour's message has been easy to understand: it was something they felt comfortable with and they don't get it from Plaid at the moment.

The task now, he said, for the party and the new leader, was to try to offer a similar sort of 'emotional comfort blanket.'

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