First Minister Carwyn Jones AM speech to Welsh Conference

Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones' speech to Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno, Saturday 25th March 2017

***Check against delivery***

I want to thank Jeremy for his speech this morning, it showed that he understands Wales, will fight for our NHS and campaign alongside us in May’s local elections.

My heartfelt thanks also to Christina Rees, our new Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, for the support she has shown in her first few weeks in the job.

Some years ago, Chris used to be my ward councillor, and she was an unstoppable force then as I’m sure she will be in the future and she’s a credit to the front bench. 

The last conversation we had before this weekend was sombre and surreal, as I spoke to Chris on the phone on the day of the attack in Westminster last week.

Chris, along with many other MPs, was in lockdown in the Commons chamber - and like us she was finding out what was happening via texts and tweets.

I wanted to be sure that she and her colleagues, and all of our fellow Parliamentarians, staff and friends were safe. It was reassuring to hear that was the case.

But, we know this was not the case for all. Five people lost their lives, many more are still being treated for their injuries. Scores more will be traumatised by the events of the day.

But London remains a beacon that shines just as brightly today as it did the Saturday before. Not just for this country, but for the whole world.

A beautiful, bustling, living city that will continue to provide inspiration to millions who live there, visit and work there - and aspire to become Londoners in the future.

London will continue to thrive.

Our Parliamentarians will continue to work, and argue and compromise and do their daily best for their constituents.

And our police and other emergency services will continue to be honoured by every one of us in this hall. Thank you all for the work you do.

 

I'd also like this afternoon to mention Cllr Dave Sage of Brackla whom passed away late last night.

Some of you will have known him, some not.

Dave was my election agent for five elections and a dedicated councillor in Bridgend.

Dave was a man dedicated to his family and to improving people's lives.

A true Labour stalwart and friend, he will be missed by so many.

Dave, Rest In Peace.

 

Conference, I want to take us back a little. This time last year…

Barack Obama was President of the United States.

Our membership of the EU seemed secure.

But, the fate of our steel industry seemed uncertain.

The Scottish question settled - at least for a decade, maybe a generation.

David Cameron was Prime Minister.

George Osborne was only doing badly at one job.

And, much of the world hadn’t yet heard the most magical three words in the Welsh language.

Hal. Robson. Kanu.

And we faced the toughest Assembly election since the start of devolution.

 

Widely anticipated to be the change election, we were predicted to lose a handful of seats. Conversations were happening, we now know, about a Rainbow coalition.

My future was apparently in the balance and the Tories were about to cash in on their strong 2015 showing.

When I arrived at my count at about midnight, I agreed to a quick interview with Sky.

First question: “When will you resign?”

Well, the night got a little better from there on.

We won an election result that I firmly believe, in the context, was the best we’ve achieved since devolution.

And everything that has happened since, in the UK and further afield, merely underlines the strength of that win last May.

It was a fantastic result that owed much to the hard work you put in as members - the doors you knocked, the leaflets you delivered, the stories you told your friends and family. I thank you for those efforts.

 

I want to thank someone else too. Many of you will know that this will be the last Conference for our Welsh Labour General Secretary, Dave Hagendyk.

Over the last six years Dave has served the party with great skill, good humour and despite his inexplicable support for Aberdeen Football Club, has been an incredibly popular stalwart for Welsh Labour.

In two Assembly elections, Dave helped deliver 59 Labour seats, and last year in particular he superbly marshalled our resources and his young team in a brilliant campaign.

Thanks, Dave for all your hard work and the very best of luck for the future.

 

Conference, let’s look back just a little further. Twenty years ago today the Labour Party stood on the verge of an historic general election landslide.

Wales and Scotland stood ready to embrace devolution - power and responsibility in the people’s hands. That was - and remains the Labour way.

What else was happening? Just across the border a very interesting contest was underway in Tatton, as Martin Bell took on one Neil Hamilton.

In March 1997 Mr Hamilton was responding to Tory attempts to kick him out by saying “It’s all out war now, I’m obliged to retaliate against the deluge of lies by revealing the truth.”

I’m not quite sure what happened to that Mr Hamilton, but I’m sure he’s still a valiant sword-carrier for truth wherever he goes.

 

Hugain mlynedd yn ol, roedd Cymru yn barth di-Doriaidd 

Llywodraeth Llafur, yr un cyntaf ers deunaw mlynedd

Y cyflog lleiafswm wedi' i creu

Y Del Newydd i sicrhau gwaith i bobl ifanc

Dechrau Cychwyn Cadarn

Credydau Treth

Credyd Pensiwn

Cynyddu gwario ar iechyd ac addysg

Deddfwriaeth dros bartneriaethau sifil i bobl hoyw a lesbiaidd

Gweithredu cytundeb Gwener y Groglith i greu heddwch yng Ngogledd Iwerddon

 

Twenty years ago, Wales, like Tatton, became a Tory free zone.

A Labour government.

The first for eighteen years.

It passed the minimum wage.

Introduced the New Deal to get young people back to work.

Brought in Sure Start.

Tax credits.

Pension credit.

Increased spending on health and education.

Legislated for civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples.

Delivered the Good Friday Agreement, bringing lasting peace to Northern Ireland.

 

That's what Labour does in government. It delivers for the people.

Our people.

 

Let’s never forget that this is the party of the working people.

That Labour government brought in devolution for Scotland and for Wales.

Twenty years ago this September, Wales said yes to devolution.

Wales voted to have a National Assembly.

 

It's the only political institution the people of Wales have ever voted to have.

I remember that campaign.

I was at the heart of Bridgend and Ogmore Says Yes.

Campaigning in my community for devolution.

Eighteen years ago this May, I was elected to the National Assembly. For my home constituency.

I’ve said before, Wales is an old country, but a young democracy.

 

We’ve been able to show, over those eighteen years, how devolution can make a difference.

Rydyn ni wedi dangos, yn ystod y blynyddoedd sut mae datganoli yn gallu gwneud gwahaniaeth

 

Brecwastau am ddim mewn ysgolion

Pasiau bysiau am ddim i bensiynwyr

Y Cyfnod Sylfaenol yn newid y ffordd mae pobl ifanc yn dysgu

Y pecyn mwyaf caredig o gefnogaeth ariannol i fyfyrwyr o unman yn y Deyrnas Unedig.

Model optio-allan am roddion organau-yn achub bywydau

Twf Swyddi Cymru

Rhaglen £2bn i adeiladu ysgolion

 

Free school breakfasts

Free bus passes for pensioners

The Foundation Phase changing the way our youngsters learn

The most generous package of support for students anywhere in the UK

A opt-out model for organ donation - saving lives

Jobs Growth Wales

Ending the right to buy

A £2bn schools building programme

 

That is what we can do.

But, why all this nostalgia?

 

Well, Conference I have to tell you that this week I turned 50.

It puts you in a reflective mood.

The Older People’s Commissioner in Wales now has an active interest in my welfare.

I’ve started doing that thing when you have to give yourself an encouraging “right” before you stand up.

The things you remember and the things you forget have no real order of importance.

For example, I can’t quite remember on that night in May 1997 when I was sure we were going to win.

 

But I do remember - vividly - my order at Bridgend’s Olympic Kebab House.

It was a large donner, with cabbage, garlic and chilli sauce.

Not a classic New Labour celebration I suppose.

But there’s another reason to think back too. Because it challenges us to think about the future.

That’s where we were 20 years ago, where will we be in 20 years time?

 

Conference, we’ve got some work to do.

Look at the challenges ahead of us just in the coming three years 

By 2020 we will have experienced a decade of Tory austerity.

An ageing population.

An American President who is more offended by sketches on Saturday Night Live, than the division which still cripples his country.

On top of this we will be managing our exit from the European Union - a task that will dominate so much - too much government time and resource.

 

Conference, these are the battles ahead, and so why isn’t the Labour Party taking them on more effectively. 

We must do better.

 

In 2015, we lost Gower.

The first time for 100 years that happened. 

Within weeks, I was there holding a public meeting talking to people about why that had happened.

We took those lessons, and it changed the way we approached the next election.

And in May last year, Rebecca Evans beat the Tories in Gower.

Just as Ann Jones smashed the Tories in the Vale of Clwyd.

And Carl Sargeant steamrollered the Tories in Alyn & Deeside.

And Jane Hutt hammered the Tories in the Vale of Glamorgan.

And Hannah Blythyn destroyed them in Delyn.

Lesley Griffiths walloped them in Wrexham.

And Julie Morgan crushed them in Cardiff North.

Every single Labour / Tory marginal went Red.

Thank you to our brilliant candidates, now AMs and their campaign teams for allowing us to govern once more.

 

And that shows, Conference, that we cannot hide from the electorate - they’re why we are here. 

We have to be brave enough to hear uncomfortable truths, bold enough to change our minds.

Believe in our values, yes of course. But, they should never be either a comfort blanket, or worse, a straight jacket to stop us finding new ways to deliver.

Will we be happy to tell our children, in twenty years time, that we exited the field of play?

That things got too tough, that Brexit changed everything and we couldn’t get our act together?

That we decided to leave the fight for the future to the SNP?

To Tim Farron?

No. I don’t think so. Not on my watch. Not on Jeremy’s watch.

And I know that it won’t be on your watch either.

 

How do I know that?

It is because of the membership card in your pocket.

That decision to join this party, this movement, doesn’t tie you to personalities.

That card isn’t about me, or Jeremy, or anyone else who came before, or who will come after us.

That decision to join this party is a decision about one simple thing - that we want to make the world a fairer place.

That’s what it all comes down to.

We may explain that idea in different ways - better schools, the NHS, a cleaner environment, an ethical foreign policy, safer streets - but that is what it comes back to, this issue of fairness. 

The thought that we can let the Tories off the hook, now more than ever, would be unforgivable.

Their record is a disgrace.

Broken promise after broken promise.

They promised austerity would balance the books.

But, they are failing to provide the basic helping hand to get our economy growing again.

Years of pain, for absolutely no gain.

Theirs is a Government with no new ideas. No direction. No mandate. 

This month we presented a supplementary budget that gave the NHS an extra £180million. £30million for affordable housing and £16million for a New Treatment Fund.

A budget that UKIP, Plaid and the Tories voted against - but a budget that will put more nurses onto hospital wards, more families into good homes and secure faster treatment for countless patients.

That is Welsh Labour delivering in Government.

 

A week later, Philip Hammond, presented the UK Government Spring Budget.  You may have read about it.

It didn’t go so well.

“Tories Break Tax Vow” is not a Telegraph front page Tory Chancellors dream about.

“Rob the Builder” - read another headline

“Spite Van Man” - went another

“No Laughing Matter” said the Daily Mail.

And, so a few days later he had another go.

The second time was slightly better - he was only humiliated on 90% of the front pages.

“May Forces Hammond into Budget U-turn”

“Humiliating Fiasco”

And my personal favourite: “Hammond Egg on His Face”

Well, you know what they say - if at first you don’t succeed, then sky diving probably isn’t for you.

Conference it would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

Cameron’s gambles took us out of Europe, Hammond’s fumbles are damaging our economy and now May’s stumbles are pushing Scotland to the exit door.

 

Brexit & Constitution

Conference, I have been dealing with the word "Brexit" for much longer than the rest of you.

It was, for many months, what my then infant daughter called breakfast. I know she’s not the only one to have made that mistake. For many years I thought I’d heard the last of that dreaded word. But, no.

So once again every morning begins with Brexit.

On a serious note, there are important days ahead.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister will formally signal the UK’s intention to leave the European Union by triggering Article 50.

I know there are other views, but I firmly believe we have to get real about this - Brexit is happening.

We must respect the will of the people.

The task for us now, is to make a success of that process.

That has been the mission of our Government in recent months.

Through our White Paper, bilaterals with the Prime Minister and others - through Joint Ministerial Committees and through visits to Brussels and beyond.

We are making the case for what Wales needs - and it centres on one thing. Full and unfettered access to the Single Market.

That is what will give our businesses the best chance to succeed, and will allow us to secure growth and prosperity in the future.

We have all heard about the uncertainty that surrounds the Ford plant in my home constituency of Bridgend - every single engine made in that factory is exported to Europe.

Don’t tell me, or anyone in that factory that the kind of Brexit we negotiate is a dry academic exercise. It’s the difference between good, secure work and an uncertain future for countless families. 

And that story is replicated thousands of times over - all across Wales in workplaces large and small.

I don’t pretend that we have all the answers, but as the months have ticked by, it has become increasingly clear that our consistent, and determined stance on Brexit is having an impact.

On transition arrangements, on workers’ rights, and more and more in relation to Single Market access, others are rallying to our standard. And that is because we are making a common sense case for the economic good of this country.

But, the UK Government has got to meet us half way on this.

They’ve got to keep the hard Brexiteers locked in the attic.

And they’ve got to move into the 21st Century.

Too many in Whitehall have seen Brexit as an opportunity to turn back the clock to pre-devolution days.

To grab hold of powers they thought never should have been relinquished.

The Great Reform Bill will be a huge - and potentially last opportunity for the Tory Government to prove they understand just what is at stake.

There can be no landgrab on powers - and new frameworks on agriculture, on trade and the environment - they must be agreed and not imposed.

Already the Tories have gifted the SNP the advantage through their careless dealings with the nations and regions of this country. For the sake of the union, this cannot carry on.

For now, we remain committed to this imperfect and frustrating process, but Wales must see our willing engagement recognised in the final negotiating position.

And there are bigger questions for us to answer, for which Brexit has merely been a catalyst.

For too long, the Labour Party - outside of Wales - has been afraid to grasp the nettle when it comes to the constitutional future of the UK.

We’ve been too defensive, confusing support with the status quo with support for the union.

Well, it has long been my belief that there’s nothing more certain of destabilising the union than trying to hang on to the status quo.

And increasingly the party is alive to this - and it is right that Labour must show leadership on this agenda.

That is why I am delighted that Kezia Dugdale, Gordon Brown, Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham and others have agreed to start the process of Constitutional Convention that will inject fresh urgency into this debate.

This work begins in earnest next week with a Conference in Cardiff, so on the very day the Prime Minister sends a letter to Brussels exiting us from one union - Labour will be gathering together to try and re-imagine what this United Kingdom may look like in the future.

 

Conference, let me just say one thing more on the issue of Brexit, and it is about the way our political discourse has changed so markedly in recent months 

I think it is right for us to ask ourselves if we have become detached from some of the communities we seek to represent.

There are people who used to vote Labour who are experiencing a sense of loss that is real and which is profound - and which needs to be addressed.

In his book, A Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance talks about the experience of growing up poor - and he says “whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the working class, I say, “The feeling that our choices don’t matter.”

That’s a challenge that should speak to us in Wales, just as much as it does to Vance’s audience in the States.

That re-examination of what we’re about should always be an urgent and ongoing process for a party of Government. 

But, I get deeply concerned when I hear people in our party saying we should therefore side-line some of our fundamental principles.

So, don’t let anyone tell you that securing rights for minorities - or standing up for the LGBT community is anything other than the core business of any Labour movement worthy of the name.

Don’t let anyone tell you we should be selling our EU citizens - our friends, neighbours, relatives and colleagues - down the river in the Brexit negotiations.

Don’t let anyone tell you we should worry less about the refugee children on our doorstep, denied access to shelter by a cowardly Tory Government.

We have fought for the rights of those children, as we fought for the ones that came before, and we must always lead the fight for those who need our help.

Don’t let anyone tell you that our commitment to all women shortlists, gender equality and ending domestic violence against women is anything other than core business for this party.

Don’t let anyone tell you that our friend and colleague Jo Cox lost her life to anything but an act of political extremist violence. And don’t let that death pass in vain.

There is more that unites us than divides us, but it is vital for this party to take that message to the country.

 

Conference, our party was founded to flatten prejudice and inequality and it flourishes when we side with modernity and progress and when work to lift up our brothers and sisters from their struggles. 

So, yes. Let’s challenge ourselves over what we’re doing, and saying, to who and how.

But, don’t ever surrender the fight for good - because look around, Conference.

Without us, who will take these fights on?

For all these reasons, and more, the Brexit challenge cannot be underestimated. But, it cannot cloud everything.

 

Delivery 

Last week I held one of my regular Carwyn Connect public meetings. 

This one was in Penygraig in the Rhondda.

It was pretty packed.

All ages. All walks of life.

You know the only person who mentioned the word Brexit that night?

Me. Twice.

We took over twenty questions - and the things people wanted to know about shouldn’t surprise us.

Jobs, youth work, town centre regeneration, isolation and loneliness, the NHS, grassroots sport, tackling poverty, volunteering, supporting entrepreneurs, more and better apprenticeship programmes.

The daily bread of everyday life.

And so it is everywhere I go in Wales - Llanrwst, Haverfordwest, Gorseinon - hundreds of people concerned for their future. Looking for a fair shake of the dice.

What is at the heart of everything we have been asked for, and everything we promised to deliver? A Fair Deal.

The Welsh people are not unreasonable in their demands - what they want is fairness.

And Conference, in May in the local elections that is what Welsh Labour councils will offer to the people of this country - a Fair Deal.

Huge budget cuts handed down by the Tories to Wales mean that the financial context of public services has changed radically in a short space of time.

Councils face increasing demand but ever diminishing resources.

‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option, and it is Welsh Labour in council chambers up and down Wales, embracing this challenge and showing that there is a different way.

They have innovated to deliver the best services to the people they represent.

All the while ensuring that Labour values of fairness, community and social justice are the driving force of that innovation.

- In Cardiff we saw the creation of ‘Cyd Cymru’ an energy collective that helped 4,000 households switch to a cheaper energy tariff, saving householders an average of £235 each.

- Flintshire are taking advantage of the abolition of the Right to Buy and are investing in building housing once again.

- My own council in Bridgend has invested in new Flying Start centres in Brackla, Cefn Glas, Garth, Lewistown, Blackmill, Sarn and Wildmill helping over 1,000 children and their families.

- Barry Island has been transformed thanks to our Welsh Labour council driving through ambitious regeneration plans and boosting tourism - Barry doesn’t just look difference under a Labour council, it feels different too.

That’s the confidence a Welsh Labour council working with a Welsh Labour Government can deliver.

And there is more.

Across Wales Welsh Labour councils are constantly improving services:

- Giving local people a stake in how those services are delivered,

- Working and collaborating with others to get the best value,

- And solving problems before they arise by investing in early intervention and prevention.

Working in partnership, the Welsh Labour Government and Welsh Labour councils are delivering for our children - our schools are now reporting their best ever exam results.

Over the last 5 years, pupils getting 5 good GCSEs… up by 13% in RCT

Up 10% in Torfaen

Up 14% in Merthyr Tydfil

And the gap between the richest and poorest children in closing at every key stage - let this sink in - pupils in the most deprived areas are performing better than similar pupils in the rest of the UK.

Conference that is Welsh Labour delivering a Fair Deal for our children.

 

It is because of our commitment to fairness that I want to mention something else today. 

The tenacious and dignified campaign being fought by Carolyn Harris on funeral costs for children - it has been an example to us all.

The councils and businesses that have rallied to your call deserve praise and thanks.

And today I am pleased to confirm that the Welsh Labour Government will step in, and make sure that burial charges for children will no longer apply in Welsh communities.

It is the right thing to do, but it took you, Carolyn, to shine a light on this issue - so thank you.

Not just in Local Government, but in the Welsh Parliament too - a Fair Deal for Wales. 

Brexit or no Brexit, we promised to deliver on our commitments, so Conference how are we getting on?

In the last Assembly we created 150,000 jobs - 15,000 young people were found work through the Jobs Growth Wales programme.

An unparalleled success story for Wales.

But, we heard the complaint from the older population - how can we find new work, we’ve paid in, where is our support.

And so, we have announced new plans for 100,000 all-age apprenticeships in Wales - a Fair Deal for all people looking for good work.

For me, being in government is about changing people's lives for the better.

By making the services that individuals, families and businesses rely on stronger and more reliable.

Power for a purpose.

And so over the next few years I want us to utilise the new powers we are gaining over our railways and our bus network - to build a world class transport system in Wales.

One that is truly integrated, genuinely sustainable and one that can better connect our communities and our economy.

One that can help make real our ambition of better jobs closer to home.

And today I can announce three measures that will make a tangible difference to passengers on our public transport network.

As part of the work to prepare for the new rail franchise in 2018, we will ensure that every train on the Wales and Borders franchise will be equipped with free wifi by September this year.

In addition to this, we will begin to roll out free wifi to train stations across Wales, starting with fifty of the busiest stations in Wales over the next six months. 

And to strengthen bus services I am today announcing a twelve month pilot of free weekend travel on our long distance TrawsCymru service to encourage more people to travel on the network.

In healthcare, we knew that the Tory concept of a Cancer Drugs Fund was resolutely unfair. Independent studies showed it actually cost lives.

Access to approved drugs in Wales was faster, and our New Treatments Fund will give even greater chances to those who need them.

But, we saw too that occasionally a post-code lottery worked against people who needed the most cutting edge and specialist treatment and drugs.

So this week our Health Secretary Vaughan Gething, announced a new approach to Individual Patient Requests.

And now people who need it most will now have better, fairer access to lifesaving drugs.

 

HEALTH 

Conference, as we face the local elections in a few short weeks, we shouldn’t need a single shred of motivation more than what the Tories tried to do to our NHS in Wales.

They used our health service as a punch bag in the right-wing press.

A handy distraction from their own catastrophic mistakes, which only now are coming to light.

We’ve never shied away from honest assessment of the NHS in Wales. Indeed, it is the reports we commission ourselves that give us the hardest lessons - but we’re comfortable with that.

We want the best for patients, we want a service fit for the future.

No-one is more impatient for improvements than us.

But as yet another independent report shows Wales performing as well or better than the other health systems in the UK, how often do we need to tell ourselves not to be taken in?

When it comes to how we view our own country, we need to be a little less RS Thomas, and a little bit more Cerys Matthews.

We owe it to our healthcare workers to bury the Tory lies once and for all, and to celebrate their achievements, their commitment and dedication.

Let’s look at what we’re doing.

Waiting times going down.

Ambulance performance going up - outstripping every other country in the UK.

The average response time to emergency calls is now less than five minutes. Conference, let’s thank the ambulance service for that remarkable turn-around.

With more and more patients now taking up cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack, The British Heart Foundation has described Wales as a “world leader”

Saving lives and improving lives.

Better outcomes for stroke patients.

Improvement in cancer performance - the number of patients treated now 40% higher than five years ago.

And conference we already know that our record investment in social services has helped prevent the crisis we’ve seen in England.

Our NHS every day striving to be faster, safer, better.

And for the fourth successive month we are getting people home from hospital faster.

We know that there is more to do, however.

And so I am delighted today to announce a further £20million for social care to ease the burden on the NHS, to ensure dignity for older and vulnerable people and to give the staff the resources they need.

We are delivering for our social care, our NHS, and we will deliver for our schools and colleges too.

 

Conference, you know that education has always been my top priority.

That is why I promised and delivered extra funding for our schools in the last Assembly - we protected our classrooms from the Tory cuts.

And so we will do more to secure this progress and deliver for our children.

An extra £100million for our schools over this term - and we will put more money into the early years to support children from deprived backgrounds.

A Fair Deal for our children.

We know that a major barrier for working parents is the availability of good quality childcare - and this week we announced our pilot projects, all over Wales, for the new 30-hour scheme we will deliver for the whole of Wales.

A Fair Deal for working parents.

We know that too many older people have had to face an impossible choice, between paying for their care, or passing on something to their children.

And so next month the capital limit for people going into care will rise again, and by 2021 it will have doubled to £50,000.  We are giving older people security they deserve.

A Fair Deal for Older People.

For small businesses, the Welsh Government will provide more than £200m of support to small business in the next financial year - providing help to more than three-quarters of businesses to pay their rates.

Half of all small businesses in Wales will pay no rates at all as a result of our promises.

Taken together our schemes more than match those on offer in England. For our small businesses - this is a Fair Deal for them, their customers and their staff.

Conference, we are delivering on our promises.

Brexit, or no Brexit, people expect a Fair Deal from Welsh Labour and a Fair Deal is what we want to give them.

 

ECONOMY 

Central to this is our economy. I made no apology for putting jobs and growth at the heart of successive budgets in the last Assembly, and I make no apology for putting it at the heart of our Brexit positions either.

Unemployment in Wales now stands at 4.4% - lower than the UK average.

Let that sink in.

Lower than London, Scotland and most English regions.

We know that on almost every measure that counts - prosperity, happiness, wellbeing - work matters.

And when it would have been easier to grandstand, throw brickbats and rail against the unfairness - the Welsh Labour Government did everything we could to save the Welsh steel industry.

We broke down political barriers.

We travelled. From Port Talbot, to Downing Street to Flintshire, to Mumbai, Llanwern and Trostre.

We did not rest.

We worked tirelessly with our colleagues in the trades unions, our MPs and our local councils.

We put money upfront and challenged others to match our commitment. Conference, when we pinned those “Save Our Steel” badges to our lapels, it wasn’t an empty gesture - it was a mission statement for us....... and now Welsh steel is back on its feet.

Welsh Labour delivered  future for steel, when the Tories did nothing.

Thousands remain in good, well-paid work and our communities can plan for the future once again.

It’s not just about manufacturing, last month we created or safeguarded some 1600 jobs - as a direct result of the support offered by our Welsh Labour Government.

Like the support we have given to Dyfed Steels in Llanelli, creating 30 good new jobs and safeguarding 170 more.

Or the 260 new jobs we are creating in partnership with Welsh I.C.E. in Wrexham in a new business hub for young entrepreneurs.

But we know this is just one part of the challenge.

 

Work matters. 

But so does pay.

So does fairness at work.

So does security and productivity. 

And these are the challenges we will take on in this Assembly term.

 

I want to make Wales a ‘fair work nation’ -

where everyone can access better jobs closer to home - developing skills and careers,

where we can all expect decent, life enhancing work - without exploitation or poverty, 

where we all build prosperity and all share in that prosperity. 

 

And so I can announce today that next week I will be bringing together our social partners - the Wales TUC and businesses organisations - to discuss the establishment of a Fair Work Commission that can help us build an economy in which more people can have access to good work and a secure income.

 

CONCLUSION

Conference, fairness is in everything we do.

A Fair Deal for the people of Wales.

They deserve nothing less than that.

More, and better jobs closer to home.

Faster, fairer access to life saving drugs.

More money into our classrooms, and more help for the youngest and the least well off.

More money in the bank accounts of older people going into care.

The best childcare offer anywhere in the UK for working parents.

 

And from today…

More funding for social care.

No more child burial fees in Wales. 

A better deal for commuters.

And a fair deal at work.

That is the sort of Wales we were elected to deliver.

That is the sort of Wales we can be proud to talk about on the doorsteps in May.

We are the party of working people, and the best hope for Britain. 

Our people are under pressure.

They need this party now more than ever before.

Now is the time to keep on delivering, to keep on working and show that this party is the party of Wales.

ENDS

 


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