A PLOT is under way to remove one of the most prominent Conservative politicians from the National Assembly, according to a senior source in the party.
Glyn Davies, a regional list AM for Mid and West Wales, could be ousted from the Assembly at the next election in 2007, the source claimed.
Under proposed legislation due to go through at Westminster before the election, candidates will have to choose whether they stand in individual constituencies or opt to apply for one of five regional lists, which are meant to make the composition of the Assembly more in line with votes received across Wales by the parties.
At the last election in 2003, Mr Davies was second on the Tory list in Mid and West Wales, behind the Assembly group leader Nick Bourne, but ahead of Lisa Francis, who used to run a hotel in Aberystwyth. To most observers' surprise, these first three list candidates were elected.
Next time, however, it is considered unlikely that the Conservatives will win more than two seats on the list, because they are expected to pick up a constituency seat in the region. Mr Bourne, Mr Davies and Ms Francis are therefore likely to be in a contest for the top two places on the list.
It is believed Mr Davies would like to challenge Mr Bourne for the leadership. Mr Bourne and Ms Francis, who both live in Aberystwyth, are seen as close allies.
A senior Tory source told us, "People, including lapsed members of the party in constituencies like Brecon and Radnor, are being phoned by party activists and urged to back Nick Bourne and Lisa Francis in the selection for places on the regional list.
"There is a clear strategy to get rid of Glyn Davies. Obviously members can vote for whichever candidate they like in a selection contest, but this does seem a little underhand."
Glyn Davies said, "I would be very surprised and disappointed if anything like this was happening. I believe in the party I am a popular AM and don't believe there are any grounds for deselecting me."
Mr Davies, who owns a farm at Berriew, Powys, is a former chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales. In December 2002 he underwent successful life-saving surgery to cure colon cancer.
A spokesman for the Welsh Conservative Party said, "These allegations are ridiculous and completely without foundation. Glyn Davies is a hard-working, highly-effective and valued member of the Welsh Conservative group in the National Assembly.
"We look forward to him continuing to play a key role as a member of the Assembly group after the 2007 elections.
"The process of selecting Welsh Conservative candidates for the next Assembly elections has not yet even begun."
The spokesman added, "It would be completely improper if Assembly resources were used for the purpose of contacting party members. It is true lapsed members from Brecon and Radnor have been contacted from the party's head office in Cardiff, but it is normal practice to try to get lapsed members to rejoin and has nothing to do with candidate selection."