Contemporary Politics, 19(2) pp 203-220

This paper focuses on the policy discourse of the Commonwealth in Wales, UK general election manifestos 1945–2010. It reveals party politicization in the immediate post-war period underpinned by contrasts in policy framing and a Left–Right cleavage spanning a range of issues including immigration and development. A significant post-1970 decline in salience is shown to be accompanied by a shift from substantive to symbolic policy-making and cross-party convergence around residual policy frames whereby the Commonwealth is used to evoke past influence and a normative vision of international governance. This has wider significance for the present electoral discourse approach provides a transferable methodology to inform understanding of party dynamics and policy framing in the formative stage of international relations policy-making.