WITH spring conference season nearly over, last weekend saw what will probably prove to be the most star-studded of this month’s four events.

The Conservatives held a joint Welsh conference and something called a Spring Forum at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium last Friday, with Prime Minister Theresa May proving the highlight of the day.

But unfortunately the event as a whole demonstrated the fairly low regard the Tory party seems to hold Wales in.

The party pulled out the big guns in the morning for the UK-wide Spring Forum, admittedly with a bit of a local slant as speakers including the leader of the Welsh party Andrew RT Davies and Welsh secretary Alun Cairns.

But the actual portion of the day given over to the Welsh Conservatives for their spring conference was a paltry two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon, by which point a decent chunk of supporters who’d turned up in the morning to cheer the Prime Minister had cleared off to find a good pub to watch the rugby.

Even Mrs May, who managed to speak for half an hour without saying anything of consequence, cleared off sharpish, declining all interview requests in a stunning show of support for her Welsh colleagues.

Of course, Wales may well have been front and centre during the second day of the conference on Saturday, but I can’t say for sure, as - in a move Donald Trump himself would no doubt approve of - media and non-members were banned from attending.

In the interests of fairness I will say facilities provided to the media at the SWALEC Stadium were excellent and the free coffee on tap in the press room was very welcome.

But if the Conservatives really do want to make gains in Wales in May and in future elections they’re going to have to do a good deal better to convince the country they’ve got our best interests at heart.

Just one more conference to go, with Welsh Labour holding theirs in Llandudno this weekend.

I’m sure that’ll be a nice weekend at the seaside.

l I’ve written multiple times about the rise of the rise of an independent movement in Newport.

And this took a step closer to reality last week as the Newport Independents Party was officially registered as a political party ahead of May’s council elections.

The inherent contradiction of an Independent Party aside, this could be a significant moment for the political balance in the city.

With Bettws’ Kevin Whitehead leading the party and well-known figures such as Lliswerry community stalwart Allan Morris and Rogerstone campaigner Chris Evans, both formerly of Labour, running for the group, it would be foolish to disregard them as a real force in the lead up to May.

Even if none of the party members win representation on the council, it seems likely they could split the vote in a way which could shift the political balance on the local authority.

If they succeed in pulling enough of the vote away from the controlling Labour group, which a number of members formerly represented, we could find ourself without an overall winner on May 4.

So what happens then?

It seems unlikely Labour and the Conservatives would agree to form a coalition, although stranger things have happened, so the newly-formed Independent Party could find itself being courted by both sides.

Ultimately, it could be Newport’s newest party which decides the future of the city council for the next few years.

Of course, if the past year or so has taught us anything, it’s not to count out Ukip.

l A belated happy birthday to our own first minister Carwyn Jones, who hit the big 50 yesterday.

Any hope on behalf of the Bridgend AM to keep it quiet was quickly dashed yesterday morning, when pictures emerged on Twitter of a meeting of the Assembly cabinet, with the first minister sitting in front of two big helium balloons spelling out his age.

Look on the bright side Carwyn, at least you can go on a Saga holiday now.

l The death of former Northern Ireland deputy first minister yesterday morning came as a bit of a shock to the world of politics.

The issues around his long and storied career are far too complex to go into here, but it would be remiss not to mark the passing of a man who transitioned from terrorist to key figure in developing the Irish peace agreement.

We shall not look upon his like again.