I’ve titled my speech this morning, Winning in 2016. If anyone doubted my passion for winning, they should have been sat next to me watching the rugby yesterday. Now, I’m not here to gloat. Well, maybe a little. I could just scrap the speech and read out a match report and player ratings. And then move on the latest world football rankings, where Wales are above England.
I’ve titled my speech this morning, Winning in 2016. If anyone doubted my passion for winning, they should have been sat next to me watching the rugby yesterday.
Now, I’m not here to gloat. Well, maybe a little. I could just scrap the speech and read out a match report and player ratings.
And then move on the latest world football rankings, where Wales are above England.
But as the Prime Minister will testify, no-one likes a bore.
So let’s talk more about winning in a different context.
Winning is something I know that matters to our new Shadow Secretary of State, Nia Griffith. Her great victory in Llanelli was one of the stand out results in the May election, demolishing a strong Plaid Cymu challenge. I look forward to working with Nia - congratulations on your appointment.
I’d like to thank Owen Smith too, for the job he has done and congratulate him on becoming the new Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary. He will be, as ever, a tenacious voice for fairness and social justice – a stark contrast to the Minister he will be Shadowing.
Along with Chris Bryant, Nia and Owen represent a strong Welsh team on the front bench in Westminster and I look forward to working with them all for the people of Wales.
There’s been a lot of guff, quite frankly, written about Labour’s commitment to winning future elections following Jeremy’s win.
Let me tell you, as someone who has won a leadership election and an Assembly election – anyone who wins nearly 60% of the vote can’t be anything but serious about winning elections.
And I congratulate both Jeremy and Tom on their wins and I thank them for the time, commitment and interest they have already shown in gearing up for 2016.
I look forward to campaigning with you both.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the next Welsh General Election will be the toughest we have ever faced.
We slipped back in Wales in May, when we were fighting to win.
Next year the Tories will, of course, out-spend us and will use their Westminster megaphone to once again trash the record of the Welsh NHS.
And there’s danger on the fringes too – the frantic nationalism of UKIP and fantastical nationalism of Plaid Cymru will be competing hard for the votes of the disaffected.
It will be tough.
But, as Welsh Labour, we have a secret weapon. A record of delivery.
Every promise we made, we’ve delivered.
· Thanks to Welsh Labour, Welsh students don’t pay £9000 tuition fees.
· On average, Welsh students are spared £18,000 of debt compared to their English counterparts.
· We said we’d keep the Welsh NHS free from privatisation – free from the internal market – and Welsh Labour delivered.
· For the first time ever – a living wage for all our NHS staff.
· Free prescriptions – delivered.
· Cancer waiting times better than England.
· Free bus passes for elderly and disabled people – delivered
· Disabled Remploy workers supported into jobs after the Tories closed the factories.
· Jobs for 17,000 young people through our Jobs Growth Wales programme.
· I am glad that the new Labour leadership want to focus on housing – in Wales we have exceeded our target for new homes built.
Conference, Because we want every school to be a great school, we said no to the competitive madness of Free Schools.
And because we want every school be a great school, last year we created a new programme to boost attainment in our most challenged secondaries.
The result? The best ever GCSE results for those students. The best GCSE results ever in Wales – achieved without academies or free schools.
The gap narrowing between the poor and the better off.
So far, so good – what else would you expect from a Welsh Labour Government.
A radical programme, delivering results.
But, there’s something else I need to tell you about Wales and Welsh Labour. It is about our record on the economy.
· For the first time ever, Wales is bouncing back from recession faster than regions of England.
· Employment is at a record high.
· Foreign direct investment in Wales is at record levels.
That is what we can do as Labour in Government.
We are achieving these results with one hand tied behind our backs, as the Tories slash the Welsh budget again and again. It is a double whammy, because the austerity isn’t delivering the macro-economic miracle they promised.
Far from it.
And yet still we achieve.
We do so, because the Welsh Labour Government is, I am proud to say, a pro-European, business-friendly Government.
Social Partnership means something in Wales - because Welsh Labour made it mean something.
Just as I gave my full voiced support to the Wales TUC against the disgraceful Trade Union Bill going through Parliament, a week later I was announcing £100million project for the commercialisation of cutting edge research in Wales.
Half that money came from private investors.
I believe in business, because I believe in Wales.
When it comes down to it, we all want the same things – a prosperous economy, a fairer society.
A better future for our children and grandchildren.
I was honoured to give the centenary Keir Hardie lecture in Merthyr Tydfil on Friday.
It reminded me that it was Hardie who talked of Labour and Capital as “twin brothers whose interests are inseparable.”
In Wales, we have long taken a Team Wales approach. Our small, smart country has little time or inclination for theoretical battles – our fight is for more jobs, better jobs, for a better Wales.
And if anyone doubts the value of that approach, they could do worse than visit Hardie’s old seat of Merthyr Tydfil and remind themselves of how it has been transformed in the years since devolution.
A new college, a new town-centre hospital – fittingly named after Keir Hardie himself, road infrastructure transformed, historic buildings brought back to life. And in the last four years, 450 jobs created through one scheme alone. Jobs Growth Wales.
Or look at the boom in our creative industries. Dr Who might have been the spark, but the Welsh Government has been the engine for delivering a new home for world class productions – a new Pinewood studio now set up in Wales.
Wales for many of you might have been a childhood holiday destination. Let me tell you it is now a grown-up economy punching above its weight on the world stage.
We cannot afford to narrow our appeal – to borrow another of Hardie’s phrases, we have built a platform broad enough for all to share.
Make no mistake, Wales is winning. And not just at rugby and football.
Wales is winning. Labour is winning. As our Football Association of Wales says Together, Stronger.
Wales – the birthplace of Labour, where Keir Hardie and Aneurin Bevan made their mark. Wales – where Labour is still in government.
In 2011, we promised to stand up to the Tories - and we did.
We aim to win again next May – not for ourselves, but for our people.
When Labour wins, Wales wins.
Let’s work to do it again – and continue taking our nation forward.