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AM Melding wants to take Conservative Party forwards.

THE Welsh Conservative Party was today urged to consider changing its name in order to appeal to more voters.

The Tories' policy director David Melding believes ``ymlaen'' - the Welsh word for forward - could project the image of a more modern party with the interests of Wales at heart. Mr Melding claims the word ``Conservative'' does not appeal to some people and ``causes some to shiver''.

The South Wales Central AM argues that Plaid Cymru's decision to add ``the party of Wales'' to its official title has had some success in attracting voters from outside its traditional heartland.

And he claims the Conservatives needs to shed the image that the party only represents the interests of England.

Last year Mr Melding advocated greater autonomy for the Welsh party amid claims its affairs were largely determined from London.

Tory fortunes in Wales have dipped at successive general elections, with the party failing to win any Welsh seats at Westminster.

At the height of Conservative rule in 1983 the Tories had 14 Welsh MPs. The number of Conservative councillors in Wales has also fallen steadily.

At the 1992 General Election the Tories polled 15 per cent of votes in the Glamorgan valleys. At the 1999 assembly elections the Conservatives only managed 15 per cent of the vote in the whole of Wales.

``It would be a disaster of fatal proportions if we have a third general election without Conservatives elected in Wales.

``The party has to recognise that to be part of Britain it has got to represent all parts of Britain,'' Mr Melding said.

The Tory AM, who is co-ordinating the party's assembly election manifesto, added that while ``ymlaen'' could become the Tories' brand name in Wales, the title Welsh Conservative Party would be retained in some form. He added that a group of ``progressive-thinking Conservatives'' has been formed with the interests of taking the party forwards and projecting a more modern, Welsh image.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 10, 2002
Words:322
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