Carwyn and his team show the difference that is made from government – Corbyn to Welsh Labour conference

25th March, 2017 5:44 pm

This is the full text of the speech that Jeremy Corbyn gave to Welsh Labour conference today. 

Thank you for that welcome. It is a pleasure to be here in North Wales again in Llandudno.

Events in Westminster on Wednesday afternoon showed the brutality that one man can reap.

But it also showed the humanity, the bravery and the solidarity that really defines us and that binds us together in times of darkness and adversity.

The police, the security personnel, the NHS staff; they ran towards danger, put themselves at risk to protect and save lives, they are heroes.

And we particularly pay tribute to Police officer Keith Palmer who lost his life protecting others.

To all those who lost loved ones, who were injured, we send our love.

Our values of unity and solidarity are needed now more than ever. We know from previous occasions that some sick people have tried to sow division and hate.

So please, look after each other, help one another and think of one another.

I want to say thank you to Carwyn and Labour Assembly Members for continuing to show the difference that Labour can make in government.

Special mention too must go too Mark Drakeford, the Chancellor of Wales, who is implementing your programme despite the fact that your budget is being cut year-on-year six per cent in real terms by the end of the decade. That’s equivalent to almost £1.2 billion less for vital public services – a decade of cuts imposed by Tories in Westminster.

Our shadow Wales Secretary Christina Rees is fighting your corner in the House of Commons, working with Gerald Jones, our shadow minister for Wales and I thank them both.

I also want to put on record my thanks to Jo Stevens for the work she did in the brief before that.

Wales has great representation in Westminster. Nia Griffith our shadow defence secretary, who accompanied me recently for the unveiling of the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial recognising those involved in those conflicts. Whatever our view of those wars, we should always respect those who are sent to fight and risk their lives.

And I also want to pay tribute to that great Welsh Labour campaigner, Carolyn Harris MP, leading an excellent campaign for the Children’s Funeral Fund.

It was frankly a disgrace that in the Budget, the Tories again ignored this simple and humane demand. That parents who suffer the loss of a child don’t have to then worry about the financial costs of giving them a funeral.

I know that Labour councils like Cardiff and Swansea have already waived fees, as has Co-op Funeralcare, but at a time when council budgets are squeezed and billions are being given away in corporate tax cuts we should be able to find just £10 million a year for this basic measure.

I want to praise another of my good Welsh comrades, although he lives in England, Mark Serwotka, for his campaign to change to a system of presumed consent for organ donation.

In Wales, you have done that and lives are being saved as a result.

I was so proud to speak alongside Mark at the recent NHS demo in London. It was the first speech he had made for several months, his first public engagement since a successful heart transplant. And I’m glad he’s one of half a million people who are now members of our party.

Deemed consent for organ donation is one just one example of the difference a Labour government makes.

As Nye Bevan said, “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”. And in Wales you have that faith.

The only country in the UK to show an improvement in ambulance response times.

Improving outcomes for stroke and cancer patients.

And the British Heart Foundation says you’re a “world leader” for cardiac rehabilitation.

And, as NHS budgets are cut in England, the Welsh Labour government found an extra £240 million in their last Budget, taking your combined spending on health and social care 6% higher than in England.

And the Welsh Labour government in Cardiff Bay has achieved so much more.

On Social care you have protected funding and seen delayed discharges fall, unlike in England where under the Tories they have risen by over one-third.

And with Flying Start for early years to help children get the best start in life.

And then there’s your childcare offer of 30 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, free breakfasts for primary school children.

500 extra Police Community Support Officers to keep neighbourhoods safe.

Record rates of recycling, the second best of any country in Europe and the third best in the world. Protecting the environment, and preserving resources, for future generations.

And when the Tories abolished the Agricultural Wages Board the Welsh Labour government established the Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales to protect wages in the farming sector.

On housing, where you are building homes for those affected by the Tories’ cruel bedroom tax, investing over £200 million in a warm homes scheme to insulate thousands of homes across Wales. And congratulations to Flintshire Labour council building council homes again.

And I also commend your decision to end right-to-buy. When the government in Westminster is only replacing one council home for every six sold off then we know what they’re doing is taking away good housing.

There is so much to be proud of in Labour Wales.

Even constrained by cuts in your block grant what Labour has achieved in Wales stands as a beacon.

A beacon that shines a light on the Tories’ abject failure – socially, economically and morally.

Their never-ending cuts agenda, while giving away £70 billion in the next six years to the rich and big business – that shows their priorities.

Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.

Britain’s infrastructure is second rate and falling even further behind other major economies.

This government has an abysmal record; they have failed to modernise the economy whether it’s in broadband, energy, transport or housing.

And, at the same time, they have not done enough to make finance available to the innovative small business sector.

That’s why Labour is committed to establishing a National Investment Bank with regional investment banks for every region of England.

This year the Welsh Labour government is creating the Development Bank for Wales.

With its purpose to create and safeguard over 5,500 jobs a year by 2022.

Providing more than £1 billion of investment support to Welsh business over that period.

This has not come out of the blue. Labour in Wales has nearly two decades’ experience of working with small business and local councils to develop the role of Finance Wales into the Development Bank for Wales.

And my business team at Westminster will take a keen interest in the launch of the Development Bank for Wales and the work it does to generate growth and jobs.

Last week, the Prime Minister twice accused me of wanting to bankrupt Britain by borrowing money to fund investment.

But as every businessperson knows there is a world of difference between borrowing for capital spending and borrowing to fund the payroll and day-to-day trading or service delivery.

And as any homeowner who has ever had a mortgage knows, taking on huge debt can save you money in the long run.

We should not be afraid of debt or borrowing.

At the end of the Second World War, the Labour government of Clement Attlee didn’t say “oh dear debt is 250 per cent of GDP let’s park those grand ideas about public ownership; a National Health Service, building council homes, or creating the protection of social security”.

No. They built a country to be proud of. They established the institutions that made our country fairer, more equal and stopped people being held back.

But people are being held back today, despite your best efforts here in Wales.

Disposable incomes are the lowest in Britain.

Energy bills are the highest in Britain.

One in four Welsh workers earns less than a living wage.

An estimated 90,000 people on zero hours contracts in Wales.

Those facts are the direct consequence of Tory ideology.

An ideology that believes;

That our national assets should be sold off to the highest bidder
That the only industry that matters is the one in the city of London’s square mile
That trade unions should have the most restrictive laws in Europe
That if you cut taxes on the rich and big business it trickles down to us all

And their latest one; you can cut your way to growth and prosperity.

Well Labour rejects every tenet of that failed Tory ideology.

We need a new political settlement and a new economic settlement.

As we leave the European Union, and the process starts next week, it’s time for Labour to set out our agenda, our vision for Britain

So our agenda is about investment, so that we support industries to succeed and create the high skill, high pay and high productivity jobs that have been destroyed in so many communities.

The Tidal lagoon scheme in Swansea that our shadow Business Secretary Becky Long Bailey visited last week, this is a huge opportunity.

To invest to kick-start a whole new industry that will lead to more investment and jobs elsewhere around the UK.

To create tens of thousands of skilled jobs and quality apprenticeships.

To help keep the lights on in this country and meet our energy needs.

And to help decarbonise our economy, and ensure, as Labour has pledged, that 60 per cent of our energy comes from renewable sources by 2030.

So I say to the Tory ministers in London; stop dithering and act now to invest in all our futures.

We know what happens when the government dithers, we saw it with the steel industry last year.

A foundation industry for our country and one which must be supported by a government procurement strategy too.

Because how can it be that under the Tories, the Ministry of Defence is commissioning Nordic steel for our defence needs while the Scottish SNP government is using Chinese steel for the Forth Bridge.

Changing our economy is also about ownership so that we all share in the rewards.

The privatisation of our utilities and our industries was the biggest ever redistribution of wealth in this country to the very richest few.

It gave the privatised industries the green light to hike prices, cut staff and cream off higher profits at all our expense.

Across much of Europe energy and water are being brought into public ownership, whether nationally, regionally or locally.

And when things are run in public ownership then the profits don’t just go to a few wealthy shareholders, they go to us all.

We have to put back minimum standards too, from the labour market to the housing market, the injustice and insecurity have to stop.

Work must pay a living wage. A home must be the bedrock of security for everyone, whether renting, buying or owning.

Security at home – and security at work – are the foundation stones of the good life.

They will underpin Labour’s promise to the country.

The Tories never have and never will promise that because fundamentally they’re on the side of the rogue landlord and the bad employer.

In Westminster last year the Tories voted down a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill that simply would have required homes for rent to be fit for human habitation.

Where Labour councils bring in landlord licensing, the Tories oppose it.

When Labour brought in the minimum wage, the Tories opposed it.

And they continue to attack trade unions because they know that unity is strength. They know that by acting collectively, workers can stand up to bad bosses.

So very simply here’s three things a Labour government will do:

We’ll build the homes that people need to live, not that investors need to make a profit.

We’ll make the minimum wage a real living wage – at least £10 per hour by 2020.

And we’ll repeal the Tories’ Trade Union Act.

Our vision is all the more important as we head towards the uncertainty of Brexit. Uncertain because of the recklessness of Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox. And uncertain because of the complacency of Theresa May and Philip Hammond.

Businesses need reassurance on investment, but they also need, as the Welsh Labour government has demanded “full and unfettered access to the single market”.

The Foreign Secretary says it would not be apocalyptic to leave the European Union without a deal. It would be “perfectly OK”, he says.

Tell that to the Ford workers at Bridgend. Tell that to the Steel workers at Port Talbot. Tell that to the Airbus workers in Broughton.

Their jobs depend on our European exports – to our “full and unfettered access to the single market”.

I know that our shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and our shadow International Trade Secretary, Barry Gardiner will be working alongside Carwyn, Mark and the team to ensure Labour stands up for people’s jobs, the economy and investment.

The Labour Party has been most successful when we have been at our most united.

Whatever our differences we all know that what unites us is so much more and so much stronger.

And we know that our communities need a Labour council, a Labour mayor and a Labour government.

In Wales this May, Labour is defending over 500 seats in 22 unitary authorities. We lead 12 of those councils -10 outright – and I know Carwyn and all members of the Labour Party in Wales will be united in not only defending those council, but fighting to make gains too, including in Denbighshire.

Whether it’s at the town hall, in Cardiff Bay, or at Westminster- Labour being in power means having someone who is standing up for you.

United we stand, divided we fall.

And united I believe this great party can do great things, together.

Thank you.

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