Carwyn Jones – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Cadeirydd, gynhadledd.

Chair, Conference.

Thank you Owen for that introduction and thank you for the work you’re doing at Westminster holding the Tories and Lib Dems to account.

You’ll hear much during this conference about the harm the Tories and Lib Dems are wreaking on ordinary families up and down the land:

– their one-size-fits-all approach to welfare reform;

– and their laissez-faire approach to the economy which has resulted in so many young people being out of work.

Their iniquitous bedroom tax, which penalises the disabled in particular.

Well done Ed!

Your pledge to do away with this morally bankrupt policy will bring hope to 40,000 households in Wales and many more across the rest of the UK which have been blighted by this tax.

Well, let me tell you some of the things we – as a Welsh Labour Government – have been doing to stand up for the people of Wales during these difficult times.

Our greatest focus as a Government has been on jobs and growth.

Trying to make the difference to the lives of people in Wales and not rely on the failed Tory policies which have blighted the rest of the UK since 2010.

As a result of our actions, in Wales, things are going in the right direction.

Over the last 12 months, employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates in Wales have all moved in a positive direction and outperformed the UK average.

Since 1999 there has been a 101.2 per cent increase in Welsh exports, the fourth largest of any UK region and compared to an increase of 79.2 per cent for the whole of the UK.

Wales is on the up under Labour.

On inward investment into Wales, we are transforming the picture compared to some parts of the rest of the UK.

Over the last 12 months there have been 67 foreign direct inward investment projects for Wales, creating 2,605 new jobs and safeguarding another 4,857.

Through our ‘Our Business Start-up programme’ we’ve helped establish 6,800 new enterprises and that has helped create more than 13,433 jobs.

Conference one of the first things the Tories did when they came to power back in 2010, was to axe the Future Jobs Fund.

By contrast one of the first things the Welsh Labour did it when elected in 2011, was to introduce a Welsh version of that scheme – what we call, Jobs Growth Wales.

I am proud to stand here today and tell you that over the last 18 months we’ve created eight and a half thousand job opportunities for young people aged between 16 and 24 – with six and a half thousand of those going on to find work.

Conference – Labour delivering hope for young people in Wales for the future!

When it comes to tackling poverty, we are equally as focused.

In England you are witnessing the cuts to Sure Start.

In Wales we have Flying Start and by the end of this year nearly 28,000 children and their families will be receiving support from the programme.

It means we are on track to double the number of children benefitting from Flying Start by 2016.

Also Conference, I am proud to stand here today and tell you that, the Welsh Government introduced a support programme for Remploy workers who were abandoned by the Tories in Wales.

Our funding has helped 117 Remploy workers find new jobs – that’s a 117 disabled workers who faced redundancy thanks to Tory closures.

You see, as a Welsh Labour Government, we don’t have different policies for the sake of being different.

We have different policies in Wales because they’re right for our people.

Right for our young people – who need hope for the future.

Right for our older people – who need security and certainty.

Right for our vulnerable people – who need a government that cares.

Conference, we are building a Wales that’s a living, breathing example of what Labour values can achieve when in Government.

So, what are we doing to make Wales a fairer, more equal country with more opportunity for our people?

Well, for a start – when it comes to the NHS, there’s no market, no privatisation, no unworkable reform agenda.

Our NHS – the Welsh NHS – remains true to Bevan’s founding principles and remains true to ethos that has served it well since inception.

We have kept free prescriptions.

We’ve increased access to GPs.

And I’m proud to tell you that we recently passed a new law which means Wales will have the first opt-out system for organ donation anywhere in the UK – potentially providing organs to some of the 50 people in Wales who die every year waiting on the transplant list.

In education, we have introduced the Foundation Phase for the youngest children –a curriculum based on learning through experience.

Despite fierce opposition from the Lib Dems and Tories over many years, we have kept Free School Breakfasts for our children.

Yes conference  – the same Lib Dems and Tories who last week adopted Welsh Labour policy and will now follow our example in England.

We welcome their conversion, however late it is!

We’ve kept Education Maintenance Allowance to encourage our young people to stay in learning.

And, after the Tory debacle earlier this year, I am proud to say that in Wales we will retain GCSEs and A-levels as key school qualifications.

We will not follow the shambles that Michael Gove has presided over in England.

Conference, every day in Wales, we see tangible benefits of being a part of Europe.

Whether it be helping farmers and rural communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving research and innovation at our universities.

Thanks to EU money we have helped 50,000 people across the whole of Wales into work and nearly 140,000 to gain qualifications.

EU funding has invested £110 million in some 500 businesses, helping them grow and create jobs.

Europe is Wales’ largest trading partner and over 600 firms across the country export goods and services worth around £5bn every year to other EU countries.

There are around 150,000 jobs in Wales depending on that trade.

Wales cannot afford to leave the UK and we cannot afford to leave the EU.

As the First Minister of a Welsh Labour Government, I am proud of our strong links with the trades union movement in Wales.

We see trades unions as crucial social partners – just as we do with the CBI, for example.

In Wales, we work with all sectors of Welsh society to make Wales a better and more prosperous place for all of us – whether they be employer or employee.

We have worked with the trades unions to improve the lives  of our people and at a time when working people are under threat, they need trades unions to defend them.

When it comes to workers’ rights in Wales, I am proud of the various stands my Government has taken over the last twelve months.

If you remember one of the first things the Tories signalled when they came to office was their intent to scrap the Agriculture Wages Board and in England, they’ve already done it.

But in Wales – as a Labour Government, we decided not accept this. So we have now passed legislation to protect the wages of over 13,000 farm workers in Wales.

A Welsh Labour Government standing up for workers.

When the Tories tried to undermine UK wide pay agreements by floating the idea of the regional pay, we knew that for thousands of public sector workers in Wales and other parts of England such a move would mean less money for some of the most lowest paid workers in the UK.

Not only did we say “no” in Wales – we backed up our message of opposition with hard facts and hard evidence that destroyed the UK Government’s case to force it through.

Again, a Welsh Labour Government standing up for workers.

And more recently conference, I am proud to say we have taken action to stamp out the heinous practice of blacklisting.

Last week, my government issued a Procurement Advice Note to all Welsh public bodies making clear those circumstances where they can exclude blacklisters from bidding for a public contracts in Wales.

Conference, blacklisting has ruined the careers and livelihoods of good, decent trade unionists all over the UK.

In Wales we have said “enough”.

In Wales, there is a Government that is standing up for workers!

In Wales, we have a Labour Government – we need a Labour in Scotland with Johann as First Minister and we need a Labour Government in London with Ed as Prime Minister.

Working together, we can give people hope.

Show that there is a better way.

And lead the way to a fairer and more prosperous Britain.

In Wales, because of the bedroom tax, there are 40,000 good reasons to elect a Labour Prime Minister.

So let 2015 be the year to give hope.

And let 2015 be the year to win.

Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr.