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The tide of defections is all in the Tories' favour

Plaid AM Mohammad Asghar has defected to the Conservatives.

This is the first Member of the Welsh Assembly to cross the floor since the start of devolution.

More soon.

Mohammad_asghar 11.50am: This is how Mr Ashgar is described on the Assembly website:

"Mohammad Asghar, known as ‘Oscar’, became the first Assembly Member from an ethnic minority when he was elected to the Assembly in May 2007. He has stood for Plaid Cymru in previous elections, including the last General Election. Oscar’s political interests include economic development and he feels strongly about combating social exclusion. He is the Plaid Cymru Assembly spokesman on skills and training and is a member of the Finance Committee and Legislation Committee No. 1."

These are good times for the Welsh Conservatives.  Earlier this year they topped the poll in the European elections.

This is the second defection in the last 24 hours for the party UK-wide. A Croydon councillor joined the Conservatives yesterday. Labour's advisers on public service reform are joining the Conservatives. Whatever the modest reduction in the Tory opinion poll position, the tide of defections is all in the Tories' favour.

Tim Montgomerie

Noon Statements from Mr Ashgar, Nick Bourne AM and Cheryl Gillan MP:

In a statement issued at a press conference in Cardiff today Mohammad Asghar said:

“For some time now I have felt out of tune with the views and policies of Plaid Cymru.
“My politics are very much in line with wanting a stronger Wales within a successful United Kingdom.
“I believe that the Welsh Conservative Party in the National Assembly, led by Nick Bourne, reflects my beliefs.
“I am also attracted by the caring Conservatism and policies for change put forward by David Cameron and the Conservative Party at Westminster. 
“I very much look forward to playing an important role in the shadow team in the National Assembly and to helping to shape the policies for the Assembly elections in 2011.”

Welsh Conservative Assembly leader Nick Bourne said:

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Oscar and Natasha to the Conservative Party.
“I am also delighted that Oscar is going to be part of our Assembly team in the run-up to the next Assembly elections.
“He is a man who commands respect within the Assembly and the communities of South Wales East.
“Natasha is an energetic campaigner and an experienced candidate. I look forward to them both playing an important role in the Conservative Party in the future.
“Today’s decision is another sign that only the Conservative Party, under David Cameron’s leadership, can bring about the change Wales and Britain needs.
“We hope others will follow Mohammad and Natasha’s example and join us to make that change happen.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan MP said:

“This is yet more evidence of the Conservative Party broadening its appeal under David Cameron’s leadership.
“I am extremely pleased Oscar and Natasha have joined us. They have played an active role at the highest levels of Plaid Cymru but have decided, as so many others have done, that only the Conservatives can beat Labour in Wales and set our country on the new direction it so badly needs.
“Today’s announcement marks the end of another successful year for the Welsh Conservatives – a year in which we won the European elections, beat Labour for the first time, and in which we laid the foundations for the General Election campaign in 2010.”


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