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.

Carwyn Jones – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Carwyn Jones to the Labour Party conference on 26th September 2011.

Cadeirydd, cynhadledd. Diolch am y croeso.

Chair, Conference. Thank you for that welcome.

Forgive me if I look a tad pleased this morning but I am sure you will understand the reason is that Wales have just beaten Namibia in the Rugby World Cup!

Colleagues, on the 5th May our Party had the best ever result since devolution, and Labour formed the Government!

On every measure – the number of seats won, the number of votes cast and the share of vote – Welsh Labour won the election.

And importantly for this Party, it sent a message across these islands.

A message that despite the outcome of the last General Election, Labour is back in the ‘saddle’ – setting out an alternative vision to people right across the UK.

A message that amidst the laissez faire trademark approach of the Tory and Lib Dem coalition – we in Wales have shown that people from all backgrounds will come out and vote positively for a set of policies that offer them vision and hope for the future.

Be in no doubt colleagues – our Party can replicate the success we have enjoyed in Wales across the rest of the UK.

But the election of a Labour Government on the 5th of May was not our only success this year.

On 3rd March, the people of Wales voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Assembly having powers to make ‘Welsh Laws’.

Laws made in Wales, for the people of Wales.

This is the year that Wales truly came of age. And at the heart of this change was the Labour Party.

I would like to thank Ed personally for his support – not just during ‘Yes’ campaign, but for his frequent visits to Wales since becoming Party Leader.

Diolch i chi Ed – you are a true friend of Wales!

Also, I would like to thank Peter Hain for the way he has thrown himself into the ‘Refounding Labour’ debate over recent months.

Peter – you have done the Party a fantastic service – well done!

So, you may ask – “What was this vision that you offered to the people of Wales back in May?”

Well Conference, our manifesto was the most comprehensive ever put before the Welsh people.

And it was born of travelling the length and breadth of Wales over many months – talking to doctors and patients, to those providing social care and those relying on it for their everyday needs.

Listening to teachers and pupils, to the people who collect our rubbish.

To the voluntary groups who work tirelessly in their local communities to ensure youngsters get a chance.

Our Programme for Government – which will be published tomorrow – will have at its heart the five pledges that we offered to the people of Wales at the election and a great deal more.

We will deliver:

More apprenticeships and training for young people – unlike the Tories, we won’t accept another lost generation of young people;

Better access to GP surgeries in the evenings and on Saturdays and health checks for the over 50s;

More funding for all our schools;

An extra 500 police community support officers to keep our streets safe; and

More children benefiting from free childcare and health visiting.

Conference, the world economy is in a difficult state. However, that does not mean we can just sit back and let the tide wash over us. Far from it.

In Wales, whilst we don’t have all the economic levers at our disposal, we can still make a difference to people’s lives.

Unlike the Tories, we will not fail in our duty to help our people during difficult times.

This Party was founded on standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people through hard times.

We will never abandon that principle!

Conference, I just want to say something about the NHS.

We are watching with great sadness the mess the Tories and Lib Dems are making of the health service in England.

An NHS being dismantled by Tory dogma and their obsession with the market. One where waiting lists are running out of control, and where people are still subject to a ‘tablet tax’ on prescriptions.

Welsh doctors are telling me they’d much prefer to work in Wales.

That’s because:

In Wales, we will not privatise the NHS.

In Wales, we will not introduce market principles and competition in the NHS.

And in case anyone is any doubt, in Wales, free prescriptions are here to stay.

The NHS – made in Wales and safe in Wales – under Labour!

Conference, I know the people I serve, are people to whom fairness – or chwarae teg – comes as second nature.

People who know the true meaning of community.

Indeed, it was that sense of community that was witnessed by the world in recent days, following the tragic events at the Gleision mine in the Swansea Valley.

We must build on that sense of community.

Conference, our Party in Wales is in a truly privileged position and I am in no doubt that now we have to deliver:

On jobs and growth in the Welsh economy;

Equipping our youngsters with the skills they need for the future;

Providing more and better quality homes; and

Underpinning it all, the Labour values of social justice and equality of opportunity for all.

Conference – together, we can make that future a reality.

Together, we will build a better Wales.

Carwyn Jones – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, to the 2010 Labour Party conference.

Chair, Conference.

I am delighted to bring you greetings from Wales – where Labour is still in Government!

Chair, I come here to Manchester today to bring good news about Welsh Labour – about the reasons we have to be optimistic about the future of our party and how we are looking ahead with relish to the Assembly elections next May.

But first, Conference, let me start with a word about the person who for most of the last decade, had addressed this Conference as Welsh Labour Leader – Rhodri Morgan.

Today, I would like to pay tribute to Rhodri for his part in not just making devolution the overwhelming success it has become in Wales – but also for his role as the Leader of Welsh Labour throughout those years. Rhodri – thank you!

Conference, it is twelve months ago – almost to the day – since we started the campaign to elect a successor to Rhodri.

As with the UK Leadership contest, the Welsh Labour Leadership election breathed new life into our Party in Wales.

Hundreds upon hundreds of members came to the hustings meetings to talk about the direction in which we needed to travel.

Irrespective of the result, to see the Labour Party back to its democratic roots – debating, challenging and enthusing – was a great spectacle to witness once again.

I was proud, Conference, and humbled, to have been chosen by party members the length and breadth of Wales, to be their Leader.

I promised then to be a Leader for the whole of Wales and our task now is to take the battle to our opponents across the whole of Wales.

To do that, we need to build on the General Election result – not the finest moment in Labour’s long and proud history in Wales – but a million miles from the ‘meltdown’ our opponents so foolishly expected and so rashly predicted, beforehand.

Today, I would also like to pay a tribute to my colleague Peter Hain and the role he played in that election.

Peter – you did us proud.

Conference, as the first Prime Minister or First Minister in Britain to have gone to a Comprehensive school, today I look forward to welcoming Ed to that select ‘club’ in 2015.

Ed congratulations on being elected the new Leader of our party. I am looking forward to working with you in the future.

Incidentally Ed – when you came to Cardiff during the campaign, you publicly proposed that the Leaders of the Welsh and Scottish parties should have ex-officio seats on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

Both Iain Gray and I, wholeheartedly support you in this.

It’s long overdue that our party structure reflects the variou s devolution settlements that exist within the UK.

Next May, Welsh voters will go to the polls to elect their fourth Assembly.

Yes, we will have a serious fight on our hands. Yes, we are taking absolutely nothing for granted.

But I can tell you Conference, we are determined to win – not just for Labour but for Wales as a whole – and especially for those people who depend on us for fair play. Or, as we say in Welsh – “chwarae teg”.

Let’s not forget that it was Labour that had the vision to let the people of Wales find their voice, when we held our referendum to set up the Assembly thirteen years ago.

Far from destabilising the relationship between Wales, Scotland and England, I believe devolution has actually strengthened those bonds.

Labour has remained at the head of Government in Wales throughout the lifetime of the Assembly – and yes we are going for a record fourth term too!

We continue to deliver for the people of Wales on a daily basis in health and education, on the environment and on our economy.

My appeal to you today is to come to Wales for the election in spring next year and help us ensure we keep Wales for Labour and we keep Labour for Wales.

Conference, these are tough times. But it’s in such times this party of ours, proves its credentials and offers leadership.

Aneurin Bevan once told this conference that “the language of priorities is the religion of socialism”.

Well, we have always spoken the language of priorities in Cardiff Bay.

And that’s why we will seek to protect the people’s priorities in frontline public services from the ravages of ConDem excesses.

In short Chair – we do it differently in Wales.

We do it our way – and we make no apologies for that.

In Wales, we are proud to remain true to our principles on such things as comprehensive education.

We are proud that the NHS in Wales is a market-free NHS.

We are proud that we have free prescriptions for all.

We are proud that we have free hospital parking.

We are proud that we will keep our free bus travel for our pensioners.

We are proud that during the darkest days of the recession, we intervened with wage subsidies for those companies in greatest danger to keep 10,000 workers in jobs.

Workers who remain employed to this day.

These are the things we do differently. These are things that make us proud.

But Conference, there are areas that are not in our control. Areas that we will need our MPs – our Labour MPs – to speak up for on our behalf.

We need that voice in London to say loud and clear that when everyone’s focus should be on saving jobs and creating growth and re-stimulating the UK economy, all the Lib Dems and the Tories want to do, is change the way we vote and gerrymander constituencies to get rid of hard-working Welsh Labour MPs .

Colleagues, we will fight this all the way.

Labour must be proud of what we have delivered for Wales.

We have built a more confident Wales.

And this confidence will be no better typified than next week, when we will be the focus of global sporting attention, when we host the Ryder Cup in Newport.

But without the imagination and determination of a Labour Government in Cardiff Bay, this event would never have happened: and without devolution – we would never have had the confidence to have even contemplated hosting it.

This is the spirit that encapsulates our modern Wales. This is the spirit that binds the people to our party.

Next year, we will reach out and offer hope and vision – based on our values of decency, of social justice, of tolerance and mutual respect.

Conference, as you know, Labour in Wales was founded on such a vision.

In a year from now, I hope to report that we have secured a majority Labour Government in Wales – and with your help – we will!

Welsh Labour is now re-discovering its voice. We are re-stating our radicalism and we are re-connecting with our people.

I want us to win back Wales, ward by ward and street by street – in the north, in the West, in the Valleys, in the Vales, on the borders to the East and in the cities to the South.

We will fight back. We will fight to win.

Because Conference, we’re proud to be Welsh. We’re proud, to be British. But above all , Conference, we’re proud to be Labour.

Thank you.

Carwyn Jones – 2010 TUC Speech

Below is the text of the speech made by the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, on 30th November 2010 at the Trade Union Congress special conference.

Thank you Sian. It is a real pleasure to be here and to be speaking alongside Brendan. I am grateful to the Wales TUC for calling this special conference. The timing could not be more appropriate.

There is no doubt that public services in Wales are facing the biggest challenge since Devolution, and even further back.

We have grown used to talking about Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s as the toughest period for public spending and services in recent times. We may be seeing the emergence of a rival which history will regard as equally devastating in its impact.

It’s clear that in Wales we’re facing our biggest challenge since devolution began.

I have talked recently about feeling two simple emotions: disappointment and determination. I would have liked a better budget settlement, and I would have liked an announcement on the future of the Defence Academy at St Athan, a superfast broadband pilot area and other investments that had been on the horizon.

I would have welcomed some clarity yesterday on the electrification of the rail line between London and Swansea. But they have not come to pass and we must press on.

Past experience has shown what happens when financial pressures are translated into all-round cuts in services – with those in greatest need often taking the biggest hit.

So despite the disappointments, my government is resolute and determined to push on to protect the vulnerable – and when Jane takes you through the draft budget you will see we have made every effort to be responsible, to protect frontline jobs, to think about the long term and to take tough decisions.

Whatever the doom mongers might tell you, I think it is a good time to be in Wales. Our government is modern and progressive – we are living up to the rhetoric of fairness.

Following the draft budget, many commentators have said so: ‘indignant, but honest and progressive seems to be the prevailing view’.

Wherever possible we have tried to think carefully and sensibly about how we can protect the public service and the economy in Wales; and how we can mitigate some of the worst impacts of the welfare cuts that the coalition has laid at our door.

We have been seen through our draft budget to grasp the nettle to protect frontline staff and to continue serving people in their communities, not from the ivory tower.

Pride in Welsh public service workforce

I am incredibly proud of the Welsh public service workforce.

We have an incredible heritage of Welsh workers and their communities making a huge difference to the lives of others in our country – and the thread from the great struggles of the past runs through to today.

Men and women who might have played their part in other industries in years gone by, now bind our communities together as refuse workers or ambulance drivers or paramedics or environmental health inspectors.

I met many of them in the Summer when I went on my tour of Wales, meeting people delivering and using services in local communities. I wanted to demonstrate my commitment as First Minister to “seeing it as it is” from those who know best – and what I heard was of enormous value.

The refuse collectors in Torfaen had the smartest take on local government reorganisation I’ve heard, and the extra care facilities in Gwent – and particularly the Gwent Frailty project – really struck me with the way that both specialised and generic staff were working hand in hand really effectively for the people using the service.

The projects where services understand people’s needs in detail and design those services around them seem to be the best – the most efficient and the most effective.

At the frontline, people really do come first. Sometimes I worry that in the back office we’re making it too hard for them. I heard too much about duplicating assessments for the sake of bureaucracy, too many fixes in the system (though some of the advocacy services I saw in housing services were quite brilliant) and too much about the balance of workers time still shifting towards paperwork rather than care.

We must do better across the whole system to support the common endeavours of our frontline workers to do the very best possible job.

When I visited the Save a 1000 Lives campaign in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, preventing harm to patients so effectively every single day, I saw that improvement happens when the frontline workforce identifies and implements the right solutions.

Public Service is sometimes presented as if it sits apart from the economy and prosperity in Wales. This is not the case. It plays a critical role as part of the Welsh economy.

Alongside the private and third sectors, public servants are vital to the delivery of our commitment to economic renewal. One of my criticisms of the Chancellor is that his fiscal and public services policy was almost completely detached from any strategy for economic development and jobs.

The two have to be complementary, which is why our budget includes both a strong commitment to public service and fiscal stimulus measures to help jobs and business.

The UK coalition government thinks that there are too many public service jobs in Wales and too few private sector jobs – well I think there’s room for both – our economy needs both.

There are some 32,000 non-devolved civil servants in Wales to our 6,000, some 182,000 Local Government staff and some 84,000 NHS Wales staff.

We will need to keep a watchful eye on our public sector workers as pressures increase, and endeavour to influence decisions taken about the future wherever we can.

Passion for Public Service

The other thing that I was reminded of as I met frontline workers and service users over the summer was the simple, invigorating passion that people in public service have for their jobs.

I was at the Public Services Summit yesterday with the 250 leaders and staff from across the Welsh Public Service and I challenged them to work collectively to manage down every last overhead and inefficiency to mitigate the worst impacts of the CSR.

I was also able to remind them of the importance of public service – not just for its own sake but because it underpins the economy through skills development, training and infrastructure. It transforms life chances through education; and it prevents high cost economic and social failure like those lives lost to abuse or prison or welfare dependence.

This is why the Assembly Government’s commitment and distinctive approach to public service delivery is so important.

It is a model that has from the beginning of devolution kept the workforce and the people of Wales right at the heart of the matter.

From Making the Connections, through Beecham to the 5 year strategic framework in NHS Wales. More recently, in the Social Service Commission which is about to report, Local Government’s ‘What’s Best Delivered Where?’, and Education’s ‘Frontline Resources Review’.

We are thinking hard about the challenges of the future and what that means for people and what it means for the workforce.

My Cabinet team are absolutely committed to finding the models of public service that will work for the future – fairly, efficiently and effectively – despite the inevitable challenges we face.

Professionalism in handling turbulent times

So we are now in a period when workforce matters are likely to come to a head. We have already seen some of the first engagements play out quite publicly.

In Local Government we have already seen some hard engagements, particularly in Neath Port Talbot and Rhonda Cynon Taf focused mainly on driving through change in local Terms and Conditions.

I appreciate that this is a very tough time and I know that negotiations must happen, but I wanted to stress today that fairness in managing our public services matters. Respect and honest engagement should be the hallmarks of our discussions around workforce issues, not the waving of redundancy notices to secure revised terms and conditions.

We all know each other pretty well and we know we must depend on each other to deliver for the people of Wales.

There will be an inevitable impact on employment – but I have made it clear that I expect every avenue to be explored before any compulsory redundancies.

Efficiency and Innovation will make a viable contribution if we all give our best.

I am doing my bit. Most of you will know that I do not have a formal role in UK negotiations, but I am passionate about engagement and dialogue with social partners – it has always been a core part of my approach to politics.

To this end I have built on the partnership councils that exist within WAG and have brought together the Workforce Partnership Council, which I chair and which brings public service employers and unions together on the basis of mutual respect.

It is not negotiating machinery but it does provide a forum for dialogue and communication which will be critical in the times ahead. And it is not a talking shop.

I have already commissioned from the partnership a national training programme to underpin better working relations. It is a partnership unique to Wales, and it reflects a real commitment to effective workforce engagement.

Alongside this, the Efficiency & Innovation Board is:

exploring proposals for a Career Transition Unit to support staff who may need to change career, receive training and move into a new field during the coming months or years;

and it is keeping track of workforce changes and developments.

At yesterday’s Public Services Summit I set an expectation that our Public Service Leaders should be good and fair employers in the difficult times ahead.

Today I am asking for your support and flexibility as we take on the greatest of challenges as one Public Service in Wales.

Conclusion

In Wales, helped by our scale and the road we have already travelled together, we share a vision for Public Service.

We saw this distinctive approach in the way that public services and social partners came together to lead Wales out of the recession and it is something which stands us in good stead to take on the challenge for public services.

In England there is a sense that social partners and the workforce are somehow the problem, rather than the solution. I see things very differently.