A SPAT has broken out in the Welsh Conservatives over who should fight the party's safest Assembly seat.
The row has already taken a bizarre twist, with anonymous letters being sent to the party leadership warning of a "great scandal" in Monmouth, which David Davies represents in the Assembly and at Westminster. Mr Davies will step down from Cardiff Bay in 2007, and the race to succeed him is already threatening to become bitter.
The likely candidates are 25-year-old South Wales East AM Laura Anne Jones; Nick Ramsay, a party worker in the Assembly, and Peter Fox, a Monmouthshire councillor. The battle to take over the seat is becoming emblematic of the fight to control the future direction of Conservatism in Wales.
Mr Bourne and others in his group want the party to become more "Welsh" and push for the National Assembly to have more powers.
Mr Davies and others are uncomfortable with this idea; he has even argued that control over the health service should be returned from the Assembly to Westminster.
Mr Bourne's camp are understood to be hoping Mr Ramsay wins the seat, which the Tories held in 2003 with a majority of 8,510.
The anonymous letter has been received by the party's leader in the Assembly Nick Bourne, director Matt Lane and Euro-MP Jonathan Evans.
Signed by "Monmouth Member" and written in typed capital letters, it reads, "A great scandal is happening in Monmouth."
It criticises Ms Jones for cancelling appointments and says Mr Davies is pushing her to follow him as AM.
Mr Davies declined to comment on the letter or the selection battle. "It is not for me to say who should take over," he said. Ms Jones
joked she was "flattered" that someone had launched an anonymous campaign against her. A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said there were very serious allegations in the letter. "We will be making appropriate investigations."