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Bourne: New ideas new Wales

Speech to the Welsh Conservative Party conference, Venue Cymru, Llandudno.

"Mae'n bleser mawr siarad a'r gynhadledd heddiw. Dwi'n falch iawn bod offer cyfiethu ar gael am y tro cynta erioed yma. Maer Ceidwadwyr Cymreig yn falch iawn o'n hiaith gymraeg. Mae'n perthyn i ni gyd.

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and colleagues, it's fantastic to be addressing conference today, welcoming many of you as candidates for the local elections and as parliamentary candidates for the next general election.

Indeed - I would have been welcoming many of you as new MPs - had Gordon Brown had the courage to call an early election.

But, as we now know, Gordon Brown consistently bottles the big decisions. He is making a complete mess of things.

Losing our personal data.

Losing control of our borders.

Failing to reduce the rising tide of violent crime.

Breaking his promise on the EU constitution.

Bailing out the Northern Rock with our money.

He's copying our policies and claiming he thought of them first.

To Gordon Brown's credit, he has managed to put more police on the streets.

Who else could get thousands to march through London because Labour reneged on a pay deal?

And here in Wales what crumbs of comfort can Labour give to Mr Brown?

Rhodri Morgan's retirement - followed by a scrap for the crown?

The worst performance at the ballot box since 1918?

A coalition with Plaid Cymru?

No wonder he's looking so grumpy.

He did smile - once - when he posed for photos outside Number 10 with Margaret Thatcher.

Why was he smiling? It's because she's a vote winner and Gordon knows it!

This is the first time we've all met since our last conference in Cardiff - and the first time since the Assembly elections.

Those elections were a watershed for us.

Our share of the vote went up. Again.

Our number of votes went up. Again.

And our number of seats went up. Again.

It is the Conservative Party that has the momentum.

The Conservative Party that is setting the agenda right across Britain once again.

We will raise the Inheritance Tax threshold

We will hold a referendum on the EU constitution

We will let police officers fight crime, not fill in the foot-long stop and search forms

We will take politics out of the NHS

We will bring stability to the economy and provide educational opportunities for all.

Our Party is a force to be reckoned with!

My role and changing the party

But these successes haven't happened overnight. They are the result of hard work - and a realisation that it was time to change.

All too often change is considered a bad thing in politics.

The promotion of Alistair Darling, I'm sure, will only reinforce that impression.

And if we're honest, the transfer of power from Blair to Brown was hardly the Age of Change we were promised.

If we look back through history, the Conservative Party has been in a process of almost continual change.

Without it - we would not have succeeded.

Winston Churchill shaped post-war Britain;

Harold Macmillan developed a property owning democracy;

Margaret Thatcher changed our party, and the country - transforming Britain's economy from the ruins of 1970's Labour mis-rule.

And all that change was necessary and healthy for both party and country. That's why I'm so supportive of David Cameron - and always have been.

He recognised that - once again - our Party needed to change, adapting core Conservative values to twenty-first century problems:

Supporting families and communities….

Supporting teachers….

Supporting farmers and our countryside….

Supporting our NHS…..

And supporting the police - betrayed by Labour - sold down the river by Plaid Cymru.

We have embarked on changing our party here in Wales too.

Look how far we've come over the last decade.

More AMs

More MPs

More Councillors

Plaudits for our hardworking Assembly team

Setting the agenda

Coming so close to government.

Change is about reaching out to people.

It's about restoring the reputation of politics.

It's about substance. It's about inspiring people.

It's about solutions for the future.

Rhodri Morgan always appears happier in the past.

He's not interested in the future.

Soon he will be the past.

So let me give him a brief history lesson.

Who was it realised the dream of home ownership for all?

Who was it who rescued Britain from the brink of an economic abyss?

Who was it gave new rights to Welsh speakers, established S4C and the Welsh Language Board?

Who was it who stood up for Britain in Europe?

Who took a tough line on crime?

It was the Conservative Party.

I entered politics to serve my country; to make a difference; to stand up for what I believe in.

I am totally committed to what we've started and it's my intention to see it through - and that means government.

Devolution for Wales - within a strong United Kingdom - is here to stay and it is our responsibility to make it work.

But let me be perfectly clear.

I am committed to the Union - and I will never allow Wales to be ripped out of it.

I will fight tooth and nail, night and day to stop anyone or anything from destroying it.

I believe a strong, devolved Wales does not and should not weaken the Union.

It underpins it.

And Welsh Conservatives must play the lead role in that.

Labour can't.

Plaid Cymru want to destroy the Union, isolating Wales forever.

So it is left to us.

Which is why I am delighted with David Cameron's announcement today that Lord Wyn Roberts will look at how we can make devolution work better.

There is nobody better for this role than Wyn.

For a small nation Wales has so much to be proud of.

We celebrate our fantastic performers - Duffy, Katherine Jenkins and Rebecca Evans, to name just three who are grabbing the headlines at the moment.

We celebrate our sporting world champions - such as boxers Joe Calzaghe, Enzo Maccarinelli, Gavin Rees, cyclist Nicole Cooke and darts player Mark Webster.

We celebrate too the recent success of our rugby team and wish them the very best for the rest of the tournament.

Let's hope the Grand Slam returns to Wales!

What fantastic role models. Something to aspire to, I'm sure you'll agree.

We must build on their success.

But where do we want to be in 10 years time?

I want Wales to be safe, secure and self-confident.

I want local government to lead by example.

I want to set people free from the burden of bureaucracy.

To trust our teachers to inspire our young people.

To free our doctors and nurses to deliver first class health care.

To build communities.

That is what Margaret Thatcher believed in.

That is what I believe in.

That is what David Cameron believes in.

And that is what our Party believes in.

This is our vision for the 21st century.

But you know… there is still much work to be done. Complacency is a curse in politics; no Party can tread water.

That is why we have launched a root and branch policy review, harnessing the talents of Wales. The brightest and the very best. This review will be led by David Melding.

The Enterprise Commission is already up and running, chaired by Dylan Jones-Evans.

The Health and Social Services and Environment Commissions work will begin shortly.

Commissions on Rural Affairs, Social Justice and Heritage are in the pipeline and will be launched over the coming months.

Our commission process will ensure we remain responsive and understanding of the key issues affecting Wales while generating new ideas.

It is vital that we all work together on this. Working together will reinforce our strong position.

Labour have also recently launched a policy think-tank - Ideas Wales - or rather 'No Ideas Wales' - to tell them where they have been going wrong.

Let's just hope it does more thinking than Peter Hain's did - that seemed to do more banking than thinking.

The Labour Party has lost the plot. Their policy proposals have gone from failure to farce.

For example, look at what's happening to the education system.

Labour's solution to falling standards is not to beef-up the syllabus, but to make beef burgers a part of the curriculum.

Yes, Gordon Brown wants McDonalds to sort-out the skills shortage.

Which can only mean one thing… Ed Balls is taking advice from John Prescott!

We were all disappointed that Plaid Cymru lacked the necessary courage to stand up for Wales and join us in a non-Labour administration.

We came so close. 48 hours from government.

Imagine that. Conservative Ministers for the first time in ten years. That's something to aspire to.

But we are where we are, and Official Opposition is not a bad place to be when you're preparing for Government - and our aim very much is government.

It's a fantastic opportunity and a great responsibility for us.

But let me assure you, I'm determined our style is not built around opposition for opposition's sake.

It's our job to fix this mess.

Our approach is positive.

It's about scrutiny and solutions.

Building for the future.

And this approach is essential as we prepare for government because whenever we ask Labour and Plaid what they're going to do to shape the future, all we get is the past.

As politicians we can go over the past until we're blue in the face but people aren't interested in hearing about it - they're interested in the future - their future.

So every time Rhodri Morgan talks about the past, we point to the future.

We are now seeing Plaid Cymru for what they really are.

A party that puts power before principle, party before people, y blaid cyn y bobl.

Just ask the people campaigning to save Llandudno Hospital.

Campaigning to save services before the election, happy to sign the death warrant for them now.

This is a complete and utter betrayal of local people by Plaid Cymru.

Once Labour's fiercest critics they are now their loudest cheerleaders.

Ironically, their election slogan promised to 'kick Labour into touch'; actually they kept them in play.

Week in, week out, we sit opposite Plaid and watch them vote for Labour policies:

Against the police pay settlement.

Against stopping small school closures.

For Labour's ID cards.

For short changing Welsh councils.

Wales will not forget these double standards.

Against Labour before the Assembly elections, propping them up afterwards.

They have gone from attack dogs to lap dogs.

Our party policies: old politics versus new vision

Labour's experiment with state socialism is failing Wales:

Economic growth - down.

Spending - down.

Borrowing - up.

Council tax - up - and up.

What a mess after nearly nine years in office. Wales deserves better.

Unlike our opponents we do not have any dogmatic hang-ups about drawing on the skills of the private sector, so long as they deliver timely and successful public services.

Welsh Conservatives believe in drawing on the knowledge and skills of all three sectors - public, private and voluntary.

It should be about building bridges - not building walls.

We believe in trusting our teachers, doctors and nurses. Labour doesn't, nor does Plaid.

We believe in freeing businesses from red tape, building the foundations of a strong economy. Labour doesn't and nor does Plaid.

We believe in supporting our police officers. Labour doesn't, nor does Plaid.

We believe in supporting our local communities, keeping post offices and schools open. But Labour doesn't and nor does Plaid.

That's why Welsh Conservatives believe that the closure of any school must be accompanied by a Welsh language impact assessment.

We believe in a strong future for our Welsh language and are committed to supporting the Welsh language press.

Cefnogi ein hiaith Gymraeg a chefnogi'r Wasg Gymraeg.

Does dim BYD yn bwysicach na chefnogaeth.

Let's shift power from the centre, where Labour control everything, and give it back to the people.

Labour's answer to everything is to produce a top-down strategy.

Our solutions rely on empowering people and communities. This is our message of localism.

People, not governments know where money is best spent.

People, not governments know what is really needed. People, not governments are best placed to deliver it.

This is our social responsibility.

Recently I visited Touchstone12 in Colwyn Bay and saw for myself the fantastic work being done by a local group to support those with drug and alcohol dependency problems.

This charity knows better than anyone how to support people through their problems.

Another great organisation I have visited is Butetown Youth Pavilion in Cardiff within one of the poorest wards in Wales.

This community initiative provides opportunities to learn new skills and a place to meet for young people in the area.

What better example to build community spirit and skills.

Both are fantastic examples of organisations that are helping people much more effectively than any government strategy document could ever do.

With the local elections almost upon us, this is our opportunity to get out there and show Wales what Welsh Conservatives stand for.

To send out our message of community spirit, affordable council tax, better local services.

We have a proud record of achievement in local government right across the UK.

Here in Wales, Monmouthshire County Council is showing just what Welsh Conservatives can deliver.

Value for money.

Ambitious recycling targets.

Building communities.

Supporting teachers, parents and pupils - FIVE new schools in Monmouthshire in the last four years - what an excellent achievement.

People are ready to listen.

They are fed up with Labour's arrogance and their selfish, complacent attitude.

Far from involving local people in the delivery of their services, they have treated us with contempt.

If people on the doorstep ask you 'what has Labour ever done for us?' you can tell them -

higher council taxes

cuts to local services

school closures

crumbling classrooms

the list goes on…

Plaid are completely ineffective.

They are followers not leaders and are dancing to Labour's tune now.

Overnight they've gone from Celtic tigers to Labour's ornamental hearth rug.

Wales deserves better and Welsh Conservatives will deliver it.

Welsh Conservatives will be spreading our message:

Cleaner, greener, safer communities.

Affordable council tax - affordable housing.

First class local services.

Protection for our green spaces.

And I believe that is when we are at our strongest.

When we are rising to the challenges of the time.

Changing perceptions.

Applying Welsh Conservative solutions to Labour's problems.

Offering choice, diversity and freedom. Dewis, amrhywiaeth a rhyddid.

This is no party political calculation.

This is staying true to our core beliefs.

Gwnawn ein gorau - ein gorau glas.

Let me finish by saying a heartfelt thank you - and a tribute.

No one understands Wales better than Wyn Roberts.

There is no greater friend to Wales and the Welsh language than Wyn.

Wyn, diolch yn fawr iawn am dy gefnogaeth, ymroddiad a gwaith caled

Thank you for your years of work and dedication - and continued - commitment to our party.

And thank you too. You, the party members are the people that make this party work, that keep everything going and make all this possible.

Now - this is our opportunity, our time. We've made fantastic gains and we are fuelled by momentum and pride.

Welsh Conservatives are looking forward, developing ideas and solutions to shape our future - let's shape it - together."

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