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Conference, thank you.
And Jo thank you for that warm welcome and for the valuable work you and your colleagues do every day in Parliament.
It’s a real pleasure to be back here on the stage at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.
Back here, in person, for the first Welsh Labour Conference since the start of the pandemic, meeting old friends once again and many new ones.
And it’s been a real pleasure to welcome the leader of the Labour Party – our next Prime Minister – Keir Starmer back to Wales for his first Welsh Labour conference.
Let me echo what Keir said. There’s nothing more important to a Welsh Labour Government than a UK Labour Government.
Thank you to all our colleagues in Westminster for everything they do to bring that day closer.
Mae’n bleser go iawn bod yn ôl yma ar lwyfan Venue Cymru yn Llandudno.
Yma, yn bersonol, ar gyfer y Gynhadledd Llafur Cymru gyntaf ers dechrau’r pandemig, cwrdd â hen ffrindiau unwaith eto a nifer o rai newydd.
Before I go any further, I want to address the dreadful and deeply distressing actions taking place in Ukraine.
The barbaric forces unleashed against the remarkable people of Ukraine are the responsibility of those in power in the Kremlin.
They must be held responsible for every human tragedy and every war crime committed.
It is our responsibility to respond to the war and the humanitarian crisis with economic sanctions of the greatest possible severity and with relief of the greatest possible generosity.
The strength of feeling in Wales and in this hall this morning demand no less.
Conference, in Wales, the response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis has been profound.
People have offered rooms in their homes; they’ve donated clothes and goods and, in these difficult times, they have given money to that cause.
Your Welsh Labour government has donated £4m to the humanitarian effort and yesterday a shipment of medical aid left Wales for Poland, on its way to Ukraine. More will follow soon.
We stand ready to help people as soon as they begin arriving in the UK.
But we’ve heard this morning, unfortunately, more than two weeks since the first bombs fell and bullets were fired, the UK Government is yet to play its full part.
This is a government which worries about the human rights of oligarchs but the Home Secretary sends exhausted refugees on a European hunt for a bureaucrat willing to accept their visa application.
I’ve had a number of chances to discuss the help Wales is ready to provide people in Ukraine with UK Ministers over last two weeks.
I’ve spoken about our Nation of Sanctuary approach and the warm welcome waiting here, as soon as the UK Government sorts out its visas.
UK Ministers tell me they share the same intentions.
But if, as the Prime Minister says, he stands shoulder to shoulder with people in Ukraine, that must seem a very long way off to all those who are dealing with what charities on the ground are calling a ‘chaotic, heartless and unkind’ response when trying to access the Prime Minister’s good will.
The gap between what the Conservative Government says, and the actions it delivers is shamefully wide.
Shameful to the UK’s reputation around the world.
Shamefully at odds with the instinctive generosity of so many people across our country.
And most shamefully of all, a real dereliction of the moral and practical duty we have to do everything we can to help those innocent people whose lives have been destroyed by Russian action.
Conference, so many of the people displaced from Ukraine are children. Women and the elderly make up most of the remainder.
The Home Secretary worries about security but surely it’s their security which should be uppermost in our minds.
Let the message from this Conference be clear:
No more prevarication
No more claiming to lead the world, while being the world’s leading foot-dragger.
Lift the hostile environment regime which still expects impossible bureaucratic hurdles to be overcome in the middle of a war zone.
Refugees from Ukraine will find that, here in Wales, we will do everything we can to make a reality of the generosity which comes pouring out of our people, and offer them the sanctuary they need.
Conference, the affinity people in Wales feel with the people of Ukraine reaches deep back into our own history and that sense of social solidarity which has been so evident in the last two years.
The pandemic has cast a shadow over all of our lives for such a long time.
Even here today, by the seaside, we can feel its heavy presence.
We notice it most, of course, in the people who aren’t with us in this hall – in the many people we’ve lost since we last came together in 2019.
Who can forget Elystan Morgan and the speech he made on this very stage, when he told us his two greatest decisions in his life – the ones he was most proud of – were to have married his wife and to have joined the Labour party.
He’s just one of too many people who are not with us today.
Each one of us, in this hall, will have someone in our minds at the moment – a friend, a loved one, a member of our Welsh Labour family – who is no longer here.
Ymunwch gyda fi wrth i ni oedi am eiliad, i gofio amdanynt i gyd.
Please join me as we pause for a moment, to remember them all.
Thank you, diolch yn fawr.
In this hall this morning, we saw a real sense of unity about some of the very important decisions which lie ahead of us as a party.
This will help to shape the future of our Parliament as our democracy continues to mature and we move into the third decade of devolution.
This is just the start of the latest chapter in our journey.
I want to thank you for backing our colleagues in the Senedd.
It’s absolutely fitting that we take these decisions in a year which marks a century since the Labour Party first won more seats than any other party at a General Election in Wales.
A hundred years later and Welsh Labour is still winning in Wales.
We stand on the shoulders of the giants of our past and we use that platform to work every day to earn and re-earn the trust of people in Wales to make that stronger, fairer, greener future for our country.
All of that was at work in last May’s election.
People in Wales once again gave us their trust to keep them safe during the pandemic.
And they shared our ambition to put Wales back on the road to recovery.
We asked people to vote for what they valued and that’s exactly what they did.
The lesson I take from this is that Labour’s unique record of democratic success in Wales is rooted in our determination to earn every vote that comes our way.
We will never take any Labour vote for granted.
Ni fyddwn byth yn cymryd unrhyw bleidlais Lafur yn ganiataol.
For all of us in this hall, every election is an opportunity to make and remake the relationship between the enduring beliefs and values of this party and our supporters.
On a bleak December morning in 2019, I knocked on the door of a very elderly lady in my constituency.
She told me she had supported Labour in every election since she could vote, more than 60 years ago, and that this might be her last chance to vote.
On a beautiful spring afternoon, last April, I met a group of 16-year-olds in Merthyr Tydfil. They told me that in this, their first ever election, they would be voting Labour.
Whether they are lifetime Labour voters or first-time voters – we will have to work hard again for everyone’s vote in May’s local government elections.
That’s the foundation of our relationship with our supporters, the engine of our incredible Welsh Labour election-fighting machine.
Our great advantage as a party is that we are rich.
Not in the stolen roubles of the Russian oligarchs but rich in people – dedicated people – who are willing to go out and make the case for Labour; to deliver leaflets; to make phone calls; and to knock on doors.
All those efforts only succeed if we have the organisation that is the hallmark of Welsh Labour.
In last May’s campaign we had the formidable combination of Louise Magee, David Costa and Luke Young.
This year we welcome a new Welsh Labour team – our new Welsh General Secretary Jo McIntyre; deputy General Secretary Joe Lock and Victoria Solomon, our new head of communications.
The best organisation and the best campaign will not succeed unless we can demonstrate that we have an argument to make – a defining set of beliefs and values that are authentically Labour.
That say to people: this is a party which stands for what we and you believe in:
- That co-operation always delivers better results than competition;
- That public services should be just that – funded and provided in the public interest, not for private profit
- That a more equal society is a more successful society.
- That the fate of any one of us, as every socialist knows, is bound up in the fate of us all.
I’m very proud that people across Wales put their trust in a Labour Government once again.
Rwy’n falch iawn bod pobl ledled Cymru wedi ymddiried mewn Llywodraeth Lafur unwaith eto.
To help keep them safe during this awful pandemic and guide Wales into recovery.
A recovery which puts the NHS back on track, to make sure the lost years of the pandemic don’t hang over children’s futures and to tackle that other great emergency of our time – the climate and nature emergency.
I’m also very proud that in our first year, with a new climate ministry at the heart of our government, we’ve made huge progress in repaying that trust.
We promised 100 extra PCSOs on our streets. And we have delivered.
We promised a youth guarantee to protect our young people. And we have delivered.
We promised a real living wage for social care workers. And next month, we will deliver.
We also said we’d be a government of the wider Labour movement.
We’re expanding our Wales Union Learning Fund; creating green trade union reps in the workplace and we’re putting our social partnership arrangements on the statute book.
All of that in our first year.
As we countdown to May 2022, local government in Wales has played a profoundly important role in our response to the pandemic.
Two years ago, when we needed to look after the most vulnerable people across Wales, it was local councils, and local councillors, who were on the frontline.
They distributed weekly food boxes to people who were shielding and made sure people got their daily medicines when they couldn’t get to their local pharmacy.
They made sure PPE arrived in care homes and kept schools open for essential workers.
They set up new systems to make sure free school meals were available all year round and they turned leisure centres into mass testing and vaccination centres without wasting billions on expensive consultants.
They stepped in and they stepped up.
Mae nhw’n wedi camu i fewn ac mae nhw’n wedi camu i fyny.
The pandemic shone a light on the vital work our councils and councillors do every day in Wales, delivering those services which mean so much to all of us.
I want to put on record today, the enormous thanks we owe, as a movement, to the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and leader of the Welsh Local Government Association Andrew Morgan and all his Labour colleagues, for the dedicated leadership they have provided, and go on providing to communities across Wales.
We couldn’t have been more fortunate or more proud of our Welsh Labour councils.
And that’s why this year’s elections are so important.
Because on that journey to a stronger, fairer and greener future, we need Labour councillors and Labour authorities in every corner of our nation.
On the campaign trail last year, it made such a difference having a hard-working, committed and knowledgeable Labour councillor as part of the team.
That sense of day-in, day-out service to the community is the bedrock of our message to people in Wales.
A vote for Labour is a vote for a party which works for you because we are on your side.
So colleagues, let’s mark it in our diaries, May 5 is the day we play our part in getting rid of this toxic Tory government and begin to repair all the damage they’ve inflicted on this country for so long.
Aneurin Bevan used to say that he’d never met a Tory until he was 21.
Conference, we have a responsibility to offer young people in Wales today that same opportunity!
When we are out on the doorstep in the next few weeks, we will be there just as one crisis is easing but another Tory-made crisis is coming to a head.
We are in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, which has its roots in Downing Street.
It is being fuelled by soaring energy prices, which show no sign of easing as the war in Ukraine goes on.
But the Chancellor is about to pour petrol on the fire with his regressive hike in National Insurance contributions, which will hit pay packets across Wales next month.
Here in Wales, your Labour government will go on doing everything we can do to help families by putting money back in their pockets.
By extending free school meals; providing free breakfasts; helping with the costs of sending children to school and helping with council tax bills; giving students the best deal anywhere in the UK and extending our childcare offer to parents in training and education.
Conference, I want to say something this afternoon about the future of the Union and the United Kingdom.
About the sort of country we want to live in.
I do so because I believe the Union is under greater threat today than at any point in my political lifetime; and because I continue to believe passionately that a successful future can be crafted for the United Kingdom.
A United Kingdom to which people in all its nations would choose and want to belong.
The United Kingdom of the future – a United Kingdom that has a future – will be one in which power is redistributed radically to its nations and regions; in which the reality of devolution is recognised and respected.
But most of all, it will be a United Kingdom in which membership brings everyone, wherever they live, a set of fundamental guarantees.
A set of Labour guarantees.
A guarantee that at times of misfortune and distress, of sickness, or disability or old age, being a citizen of the United Kingdom will mean a real helping hand.
A guarantee that to be in work in the United Kingdom will bring you protections in the workplace; freedom from the exploitation of false self-employment or rip-off working conditions.
And a guarantee that fair work is fundamental to a United Kingdom free of the fear that poverty brings – the fear of being in work but still running out of vouchers for the food bank or the pre-payment meter.
The United Kingdom today is scarred by inequality as never before since the great Labour government of 1945.
And we know it doesn’t have to be like this.
There is another way.
Rydyn ni’n gwybod nad oes rhaid iddo fod fel hyn.
Mae yna ffordd arall.
It was a Welsh Labour Government, led by my predecessor Carwyn Jones, who put that most radical piece of legislation, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, onto the statute book.
Now there’s a Union to which anyone of us would be proud to belong – a Union committed to being globally responsible, a Union of healthier, thriving communities, confident in their diversity, knowing that the unique cultures and languages of different parts of these islands are a source of strength.
All of this founded on the most important goal of all – that fundamentally socialist understanding that a more equal country is one where every single one of us does better than when we are forced apart.
I want to end by talking about responsibility – because the responsibility shouldered by Welsh Labour, and by all of us in this hall today, is enormous.
Of course we take the responsibility of being in government, at the Senedd and in local authorities across Wales.
And, despite the failures of the present UK Government, we embrace that responsibility, because it provides us with that precious opportunity to shape the stronger, fairer and greener Wales of the future.
A unique responsibility.
Because only in Wales do we have the chance to show what a Labour Government can do.
Ready to stand up for Wales.
Ready to stand up for a different future.
Ready to demonstrate the difference a Labour Government makes.
Barod i sefyll dros Gymru.
Yn barod i sefyll dros ddyfodol gwahanol.
Yn barod i ddangos y gwahaniaeth y mae Llywodraeth Llafur yn ei wneud.
We will celebrate, over the course of this Senedd term, all those things a Welsh Labour Government has done – those bread and bread things – which make such a difference to our lives:
- It will be five years since we took railways back into public ownership;
- 10 years since we created the fantastic Wales Coastal path
- And 20 years since we abolished the tax on illness and introduced free prescriptions for all.
And just as we’ve shown what we have done in the past, we will show what a radical government can do today. We will:
- Reform the school day and school year
- Create a national forest and our first new national park in more than half a century, here in North Wales.
- And we will play our part to power our economy with renewable energy.
On May 5, when Wales goes to the polls again, it will be exactly a year since we won that historic sixth Senedd victory.
A year in which so much has happened.
As we sit here today, our great tradition of social solidarity has never been more important.
The solidarity which kept us safe during the pandemic.
The practical solidarity we are determined to demonstrate to those now facing bills they cannot pay.
And most of all, the solidarity we are determined to show to the people of Ukraine at this most desperate of times.
Because the other great theme of our Welsh Labour history is that of struggle.
Struggle on behalf of working people.
Struggle on behalf of progressive causes.
Struggle to advance democracy and diversity here in Wales.
So, as we leave this hall, let’s take the confidence which history hands to us and the confidence in our Welsh Labour message that whatever the challenge, Welsh Labour is on your side.
Whatever the obstacles and the struggles of the Labour movement, Welsh Labour is on your side.
And for the people in Ukraine, let our message be clear – from this hall and from Wales – in your struggle, we stand with you.
Diolch o galon i chi gyd.