Labour’s vision, remembering Rhodri and why May’s nasty party is back – Carwyn Jones launches Welsh manifesto

22nd May, 2017 3:11 pm

This is the full speech delivered by Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones at the launch of the Welsh Labour general election manifesto.

Thank you everyone for coming today. And thank you to Coleg Cambria for hosting us.

Our further education sector across Wales is a real success story for our country. Working with Welsh government and local employers, schools and universities, our colleges are giving young people a head start in life.

We know that FE is under massive and sustained pressure in England, a Cinderella sector devoid of the support it deserves.

Different priorities. Different choices. Different outcomes.

In the UK manifesto launches in recent days, we saw that contrast so sharply.

From Labour policies that resonated – showed that we still believed in society and that no-one should be left behind.

From the Tories we had something different. I’m not sure what the official title of that document was, but it should probably be “Cruel Intentions”.

The nasty party is back, and how.

A dementia tax, an end to the triple lock, and yet another social care con trick – their manifesto says one thing to older people in this country – the Tories are taking you for granted.

They think you’re in the bag. They’ve moved on. They think this is over.

How does that make you feel?

And what did they have to say to Wales in their manifesto? Barely a mention, except for a series of thinly veiled threats about withdrawing funding and decision making from our communities.

Rhodri & Welsh Labour

One of Rhodri Morgan’s great sayings was “The Tories’ relationship with Wales is based on trust and understanding. We don’t trust them and they don’t understand us.”

As on so many things, Rhodri’s words remain prescient.

And how proud he was of what we have helped to build together as a Welsh Labour party – he was indisputably the person, more than other who made those words “Welsh Labour” move from an idea, a title – to a real, campaigning, fire-breathing entity.

We all owe Rhodri a debt of gratitude – none more than me.

I know that every one of us in this room could share a memory, a story or a favourite saying about Rhodri – he truly was one of a kind.

It is difficult for us to think about life without him, not least because he was still giving so much to our party and our country.

No easy retirement for Rhodri. Yes, a bit more time in the garden and with his grandchildren – but he was still out on the doorsteps fighting for votes, fighting for Labour.

All our thoughts I know are with Julie and the family at this difficult time.

He will be our inspiration in the days and weeks ahead.

Much is made of Rhodri’s affable nature, but by God he was a determined man and he knew the value of winning.

He wouldn’t accept defeat, when he got knocked back, he came back twice as strong.

That’s the bit of Rhodri we are going to take into these next few days.

Rest in peace, Rhodri, we’ll do our best to do you proud.

 

Why a Welsh Labour manifesto

Despite the many advances we have made as a party in Wales over the years, some people have still questioned why we need a separate Welsh Labour manifesto.

The reasons are simple, and the very same reasons that we’ve produced a Welsh Labour manifesto in every General Election since devolution.

We have always understood that political parties don’t choose what elections are about – not even the media does that, to their eternal frustration.

No, voters decide what the issues are that matter to them.

And that is why we feel it is important for us, in one document, to detail what Welsh Labour wants to do on all the things that matter to people in our communities.

So alongside the commitments we have for our NHS in Wales, there are ambitious pledges about defence, tax and Brexit.

We have seen already, in the manifesto launched by Jeremy last week, what a difference it now makes having a stronger Welsh Labour presence in that process.

A commitment to make right the mess of the Tory Wales Act – and adopting our approach, which will bring clarity to devolution.

As I sat in the Clause V meeting, and discussed our manifesto with colleagues from across Britain, and across the party, it made me proud that we were debating how to make this country a fairer, better place to live.

And today we build on that work. Our Welsh manifesto is an ambitious, comprehensive plan of what Welsh Labour can do, together, working in the Assembly and Westminster.

Unlike the Tories we stand ready to deliver the big projects that will get our economy moving – so there’s support for tidal lagoons, starting with the Swansea project.

There’s support too, for rail electrification, our Metro projects, Wyfla B, and a new Development Bank of Wales.

The Tories have done nothing to advance Welsh infrastructure in the last seven years – and they’ll do nothing for the next five if given the chance.

A strong team of Welsh Labour MPs, working with us in the Assembly, have already done so much to put these issues high up the agenda in Wales.

But, we need two Labour governments working together to make our economy work for everyone, not just a few at the top.

Working in partnership, Welsh Labour will commit to protecting the funding that would have come to Wales through the EU.

That money will be spent in Wales, and on Welsh priorities, and not stashed away in Whitehall as the Tories now threaten. We will fulfil the promises that the Tories and UKIP have said they will break, because we believe in fairness and delivering on what the people have a right to expect.

After years of Tory cuts, an estimated £1.5bn extra will come to Wales every year through UK Labour spending plans, and on the election of a Labour Government in Westminster we are committed to an immediate comprehensive Spending Review in Wales.

We will allocate any new resources to our priority areas: job creation, the NHS and education.

Remember, that each cut made to the Welsh Labour budget made our work more difficult. It denied our classrooms investment – cut the numbers of doctors and nurses we could employ. Closed much-loved libraries and leisure centres in local communities.

And for what? Have they balanced the books? No, they have not. Debt has doubled under the Tories.

They’ve doubled debt, and slashed public services. Added insult to injury.

And look at the Tory vision now for public services over the border. Proudly they trumpet policies like new Grammar Schools which promote selection.

They’ve given up on the idea of good public services for everyone – a great education for all would be off the table in Tory England.

Even Cameron’s government didn’t go that far.

They are going to focus on the interests of the few, not the many.

That’s not something we’re doing in Wales. From education to skills to the economy, we’re building a future – a decent home, a good job and a great school – for everyone. A fair deal for all.

Fairness is at the heart of our approach.

And so today we set out how we will get our economy growing again. Through serious infrastructure investment in Wales, through our new approach to developing skills and supporting businesses to grow.

And its not just about more work, it is also about better work. And today Welsh Labour also sets out our different approach to fair work.

Working through a genuine social partnership with public services employers, business and trade unions we are committed to tackling the sense of insecurity that exists in too many households in Wales.

We will establish a fair work commission, building on what we’ve already achieved through the Workforce Partnership Council.

We’ll repeal the UK Trade Union Act for devolved public services, end the practice of blacklisting, enforce ethical procurement practices in supply chains and end the use of exploitative zero hour contracts.

That’s the difference we can make, together.

And we need to remind people in every constituency, that really it is only a vote for Welsh Labour than can make that difference.

A vote for Plaid in this election is a vote that helps the Conservatives build a bigger majority. It is that simple.

But, more than that, it is time to remind voters that time and time again Plaid do not make the choices that Wales needs.

Voting with the Tories and UKIP to deny the NHS more money. Voting with the Tories and UKIP to try and form an unholy alliance in the Welsh Government. What job, I wonder, would Neil Hamilton have been given in that administration?

If it is the different vision for Wales that you want – a better, fairer nation, then you have to vote for it. You have to vote Welsh Labour.

And nowhere is the different vision for the next five years more stark than here in North Wales.

  • Work is underway across our Welsh Labour government to help successfully deliver the £14billion Wylfa Newydd project and ensure it brings good quality jobs, infrastructure and housing to Ynys Mon and the entire region. No mention of Wylfa from Plaid Cymru last week. We know why.
  • We recently announced a £20m to establish an Advanced Manufacturing and Research Institute which will support key employers in the region like Airbus and help develop game changing new technologies in areas such as aerospace, nuclear and automotive.
  • In March 2017 our Welsh Labour Government announced plans to invest more than £200m in the A55/A494 corridor, to ensure the region has the modern strategic road network to support a growing economy.
  • We are leading the way in developing a North Wales Growth deal that would see the North Wales mainline electrified and develop new links with the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
  • The Tories have fallen silent on this, just as they have fallen silent on any new investment in North Wales.
  • We’ve committed £50m to take forward the first phase of the North East Wales Metro to develop an integrated transport system for the area.
  • It is Labour who will ensure HS2 has regular and accessible links into North Wales to support the economy.
  • We’re backing a third crossing over the Menai straight to support the economy of North West Wales.
  • There’s £1m of funding to develop a new business hub in Wrexham, supporting 100 new businesses.
  • We have just announced that the Development Bank of Wales will be located in North Wales.
  • Our commitment helped save the steel industry in Wales by making available over £60m for all sites in Wales, with investment planned for Shotton in North Wales.

People are right to say that North Wales is a battleground in this election. Just as it was in the Assembly elections a year ago.

Remember when the Tories said they would make a clean sweep? Taking people for granted is in their DNA it seems.

They said they had won Wrexham, Delyn, the Vale of Clwyd… A done deal they said.

Well, the people of North Wales showed them there was no done deal, no being taken for granted – no Tory walkover and that’s what this economy needs again.

A strong message that only Welsh Labour MPs will fight for jobs to come here. Only Welsh Labour MPs will fly the flag for the North.

Conclusion

And so this is a manifesto for the North, and for the whole of Wales.

I don’t know how many of you saw the TV debate on ITV last week.

When the Tory leader was openly mocked and jeered for repeating the Tory campaign strap-line of “strong and stable” – and they were right to do so.

People in Wales deserve better than that.

The Tories think they can sneak their way through this election with a couple of soundbites, no new policies, and by hiding their candidates away from public attention. Including their candidate for Prime Minister.

It is an embarrassment of a campaign. And its because of this simple truth – they’re calculating that the more people see of them, the less they like.

The more they are reminded of what happened the last time the Tories trampled all over Wales.

The more they are reminded of the fact that The nasty party never went anywhere, they just got a bit better at hiding their intentions.

We cannot give them a free pass.

We cannot let them hide away.

Welsh Labour is here to call them out.

And that is what our manifesto does.

A comprehensive vision for the future of our country.

A vision full of hope, based on fairness and prosperity for all.

This is Welsh Labour, standing up for Wales.

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