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.