I find myself musing along similar lines to Welsh Ramblings today, although Ramblings has also found some interesting quotes from Ieuan Wyn Jones on how utterly untrustworthy the Tories are.
Those who would bring the Tories into the next government of Wales are confident that this is not the Tory party of Redwood and Thatcher, and that we have nothing to fear from them. But are they right? Should we trust the Tories to act and speak in line with what the All-Wales Accord says, nothing less and nothing more - or is this just a smokescreen to get into power at any cost? Listen carefully to their words, and you too can become as convinced as me.
On the Assembly's powers, the Tories' Welsh spokesperson, Cheryl Gillan says: "It will be cheating the voters and parliament if it [Welsh legislation] doesn't at least go through the full stages...What it is showing is that the Labour government has sought to effectively bypass parliament." Hmm, off to a good start there.
How about a new language act, extending rights of Welsh speakers into the private sector. Well, their language spokesman in the Assembly, Paul Davies, says: "Businesses should be encouraged, though not compelled, to make maximum use of the Welsh language, not erect barriers to it.
Education, support and encouragement - rather than compulsion - are effective ways forward in promoting greater use of Welsh." This is going really well, isn't it.
Their commitment to keeping services in the public sector is refreshingly new. Nothing about that in the All-Wales Accord that I can find, so how about their manifesto for May's elections? That tells us: "encourage NHS Trusts to seek Foundation Hospital status and allow a measure of financial autonomy to such Trusts". Hospitals opting out of the control of the NHS – sounds strangely familiar to me, but I'm probably just misinterpreting it.
Or how about: "encourage the commissioning of more public services from the private sector." Sounds a bit like a euphemism for privatisation to me, but that surely can't be right.
Protecting public service jobs? Manifesto once again: "All the spending commitments in this manifesto would be financed from an investment fund generated by reallocating 1% of existing Welsh Assembly Government budgets." So, an arbitrary 1% cut in the budget for all Assembly departments. I'm sure that they meant to do that without a single cut in jobs or services; the staff would just have to work harder.
I know, the environment. Vote Blue, go green, that's what they said, so let's see what they have to say on that. The All-Wales Accord is certainly promising – 3% cut per annum in carbon-equivalent emissions. So, air travel – one of the major causes of emissions. Now get that under control, and we see a real commitment to the environment. Manifesto: "work with Cardiff International Airport to increase the number of routes to Europe’s principal commercial centres, such as Brussels, Frankfurt, Milan and Barcelona." They are obviously planning airships rather than aeroplanes.
[UPDATE - with thanks to Anonymous 3 - It seems that one of the Tory AM's who so bravely supported the 3% per annum target for cuts in emissions had, only the previous week, supported a scheme in her constituency for a new gas-fired power station which would increase Wales' total emissions by 20%. Seven years' targets blown in one fell swoop. Interestingly, during the election campaign, I understand that this scheme was opposed both by Friends of the Earth - and by Plaid. Friends about to fall out?]
So, if your image of the Tory party is of a party which opposes further devolution, opposes extending language rights, supports privatisation, is at best luke-warm towards the public sector, will support business over the environment, and will cut public spending and jobs, you're obviously just as old-fashioned and muddle-headed as me. Because they really have changed – Plaid's leaders have told us so, and the hard evidence is set out above for all to see.