Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

Gillan: Winning in Wales and in Britain

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

"Good morning conference.

It's good to be back in Llandudno and I would like to wish you all a very happy St David's Day.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to Peter Thomas, who sadly passed away last month.

Our first ever Secretary of State for Wales, he was one of the great Welsh Conservative politicians and will be greatly missed.

This is my third Welsh conference as your Shadow Secretary of State -

A job which is not only a privilege but one I thoroughly enjoy not least because David Cameron has given me such a great team to lead in Wales -

And before I go any further can I take this opportunity to say an enormous thank you to the man in our team who, at his own insistence, has retired, in my view prematurely, from the front bench.

Ladies and gentlemen Lord Wyn Roberts has made a quite unique and lifelong contribution to Wales and to our party.

His wise counsel to countless leaders and his dedication to Wales is so much appreciated.

Indeed as the architect of the Welsh Language Act and champion of our Celtic heritage we can even see the practical result of his efforts in our simultaneous translation service here today - a first for a Welsh Conservative Conference.

We will pay a well deserved tribute to Wyn this weekend and I hope you will all be in the hall tomorrow morning when we will be formally recognising his years of distinguished service to our Country.

Dioch yn fawr Wyn.

Second and by no means least - your own MP here in North Wales - my able deputy David Jones.

Backing us up is our Welsh Whip John Baron - our man in the Lords Robin Glentoran and of course with Stephen Crabb and David Davies we make up your Westminster team.

A team that we hope to substantially add to after the next general election and I hope to welcome our man in Europe, Jonathan Evans, back home to Westminster.

A team that is working so hard for our Party and so hard for the man who is taking us forward - our own David Cameron.

We will not stop until we put him in to number 10.

And it is thanks to David Cameron that Conservatives are now leading the political agenda.

We want to give people more opportunity and power over their lives, to make families stronger and society more responsible and to make Britain safer and greener.

It is the Conservatives who were leading the debate here with our plans for school reform, for fighting climate change through renewable energy and for getting people off benefits and in to work.

The best Gordon Brown can do is try and copy our best ideas and even that he does badly.

We are now consistently ahead in the national polls and I believe that lead is a direct result of a party that is getting in touch with what people want from their politicians and preparing to offer the electorate a government that tackles the challenges that face our country today.

In Wales we have been moving forward, steadily and securely.

At the last general election we saw our three MPs join us in Westminster kick-starting our fight back in Wales.

Their platform provided the foundation so that last year, building on that success, we gained the second largest popular vote in Wales and returned 12 Assembly Members to the Senedd - most importantly, in preparation for the general election, 5 first past the post.

We not only hold the seats of Clwyd West, Preseli Pembrokeshire and Monmouth both at National and Assembly level but we now hold the Assembly seats of Camarthen West and South Pembs, and Cardiff North.

Our candidates for the General Election (when comrade Brown finds his courage to call it) are already on the ground and working hard in those seats and in all those places where we so nearly won last year.

This is our springboard for the next election and we are preparing to take those steps that will lead us straight into government.

So thank you for all the hard work you put in to supporting our candidates and working so hard in the assembly elections.

You did so well that Welsh AM's were nearly, for the first time, able to play a role as part of a coalition Assembly Government - nearly able - until the liberal democrats got confused.

Well that's no surprise. Today's Liberal Democrats don't know whether they are coming or going. But we know where we are going and if Lib Dem voters want a sense of direction in their politics - we have a welcome in our party for them - we will show them the way!

Now - in the Assembly - the Conservatives are the official opposition. - holding the Labour Plaid Government to account and showing Wales another way.

So will you now join me in showing your appreciation for the politicians you helped into office - Nick Bourne and our winning Assembly team. (CLAP)

But winning through in the elections last year is not the end.

The hard work doesn't stop here. This is only the beginning…

Across the country we are putting all our efforts into preparing for the local elections and we will be taking the fight right up to Labour's door.

In the last local elections we contested just over 27% of all the seats in Wales and that is not enough.

Thanks to the efforts of our tireless Director Matt Lane - this time -we are already fielding candidates in more seats, in more parts of Wales and those numbers are rising day by day.

And here's the commercial. If you think you can serve your local community by standing as one of our candidates just let us know - your party and your country need you.

In Parliament we too have been working hard taking the fight straight to Labour.

We now have 13 ways of legislating for Wales - a tortuous and complicated system more designed to keep the peace between Labour MPs and Labour AM's than to serve the parliamentary process.

And Labour is not even competent in operating the very system they have introduced.

So far this year we have seen that clauses on Welsh matters have not been drafted until Bills are close to the end of their consideration.

Legislative Orders have got stuck in the procedural morass between Cardiff and Westminster.

And as if this failure was not enough now, far worse, we face legislation such as the Planning Bill where Labour and Plaid are sucking up powers from our hard working councils and taking decisions away from local people,

and such as the Transport Bill where they are trying to give the Plaid Assembly Transport Minister the ability to bring in a national road charging tax scheme in Wales - a scheme already rejected by Gordon Brown for England after receiving 1.8 millions hits on the No 10 website from alarmed motorists.

These policies could suffocate Wales and help destroy more jobs and reduce our competitiveness.

And whilst the Government continues to try to appease Labour in London and Labour and Plaid in Cardiff who are fighting over everything from energy policy to defence - we are steadily developing our successful formula for devolution, building up our strengths by working with the Assembly Members to approach each piece of legislation with an agreed set of views - a mature approach which puts Wales first and partisanship last.

You and the voters of Wales can now see how our party can work successfully to make devolution a positive contribution to governance and maintain the United Kingdom we all want to keep intact.

This is where we are at our best. Working together from both ends of the M4 doing the right thing for Wales, doing the right thing for our people.

Approaching each policy with the main focus on what is best for Wales. That is what Nick Bourne and I have developed - a way of working in the best interests of the country we serve.

And at Welsh Questions this week David Jones and I were also taking the opportunity of holding this government to account.

But this week was different. It marked the return of Paul Murphy as Welsh Secretary.

He was charming enough to promise me a waltz to the music of "me and my shadow". Good offer - But very shortly Paul I will be changing partners.

And I think he knows it. Because the mood music in the country is changing.

2007 was a watershed year for Welsh politics.

For years Labour has taken Wales for granted and they went into the Assembly elections believing that people would continue to put them back into power.

But people aren't stupid. They now see that Labour has failed to deliver the promises it made.

Failed to reduce waiting times for hospital treatment

Failed to stem the rise of violent crime

Failed our children in their education and

Failed to safeguard our manufacturing jobs here in Wales

So people are looking for an alternative

The Assembly elections marked a fundamental shift in support away from Labour.

And we must encourage people to continue that trend by challenging their assumptions, by showing them that they don't have to vote Labour just because they always have.

In fact we must give those voters more and more reasons every day to turn to our party by showing that as much as Labour is now out of touch with what people think and want we can now offer a modern political agenda for the 21st century.

Labours biggest loss at the ballot box since 1918 has given them an enormous fright.

So much so that they jumped into bed with Plaid.

A party described by their leading spokesman as the enemy.

What an unhappy relationship, what strange bedfellows, and what a dangerous liaison. Dangerous for Wales.

Now we have 2 parties in power but fighting over control.

The Labour Minister in London has said we need the electrification of our borderlands line here in North Wales.

But the Plaid Transport Minister in Cardiff has just revealed his 4 year plan without even mentioning the Bidston to Wrexham project.

Where does that leave our local economy?

And now we have a party in power in Wales where Welsh men and women are proudly serving in our armed forces and senior politicians in Plaid are calling for our withdrawal from Nato. A very dangerous liaison.

But the truth is Labour has run out of excuses and has no where to hide whether in Cardiff Bay or in Westminster.

For 18 years they complained about the Tories but after 11 years of a Labour Government to hear Labour MP's still blaming Prime Ministers and Governments from the last century is frankly laughable.

It is Gordon Brown and Labour that has let down the country. It is Gordon Brown and Labour that has let down Wales. After 11 years there is no hiding place. They must take the blame

For losing control of our borders and of our banking system

For losing our communities through the increase in violent crime and the failure to provide the prison places to house our criminals.

For losing the personal details of half the British population and

For losing the respect of our countrymen by failing to provide the referendum on the European constitution that they had promised.

Over the past 2 years I have travelled the length and breadth of Wales and I have been listening to what people want.

People want a strong Wales in a strong United Kingdom.

Our farmers want recognition for their contribution to our food production and our environment.

They do not want to be treated with the contempt shown by a government that was preparing to compensate them for foot and mouth before a general election ….. but cancelled that promise when the election was not called

Our families want sound schooling for their children. Isn't it a disgrace that the latest report showed Welsh children achieving less than all others in the UK?

Our communities want sustaining not having the heart ripped out of them by closing post offices and schools and shops.

Our businesses want less red tape and regulation and well educated young people to be the highly skilled workers to give them a competitive edge over China and India.

Our doctors and nurses want to be able to provide dependable healthcare and keep vital services at local hospitals, as we are fighting for here in Llandudno.

And our police want to be freed up from bureaucracy and be able to protect our towns and villages.

Our soldiers want to be properly equipped for their missions serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan and they want their families in safe hands and in good accommodation whilst they put the lives on the line.

Well they can get it if they really want.

You can get it by voting Conservative.

Labour can no longer claim to be the party for the future of Wales. It was trusted with government and has betrayed that trust.

Tony Blair left government to spend more time counting his money.

Peter Hain has left government to spend more time with his book keeper.

Let us help Gordon Brown leave government to spend more time with his moral compass.

Let's go out there and win for the United Kingdom and win for Wales."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech