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Bourne: Labour must learn to listen

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I am immensely proud of what the Welsh Conservative Party achieved in the recent elections.

We had the largest average increase and share of the vote of all the parties, and we are the only Party to have gone up in share of the vote and number of seats won in the 2003 and 2007 Assembly elections.

We gained four constituency seats, two of which we do not hold at Westminster, and increased our number of seats overall.

We are highly competitive in seats throughout Wales, and some of those seats are areas that we have never yet won either at Assembly or Westminster level.

I welcome five new members though am sad at the loss of Laura, Lisa and Glyn, and I wish David Davies all the best at Westminster.

We fell just short of becoming the second largest Party in number of seats, but we did come second to Labour in number of votes cast.

By contrast this election was devastating for Labour.

It was an election on their record in government, and they got their lowest percentage share of the vote in Wales, 31%, since 1918, the end of the First World War.

That was the electorate's verdict on Rhodri Morgan's record in government.

That is why, consistent with what we had done in opposition and what we had said throughout the campaign, we worked on the so-called 'rainbow' alliance.

We came a long way, I think all three opposition parties did, and it was a real opportunity for one brief shining moment to put through important policies for the good of Wales, not least stopping the proposed Labour cuts in hospital services throughout Wales, whether Withybush, Llanelli, Llandudno, Builth Wells, Knighton or elsewhere.

So near but so far.

My party gave unanimous backing in our Management Board, and overwhelming backing amongst Assembly Members, and all was set fair when the process was stopped in its tracks by a small number of Liberal Democrat activists meeting in Llandrindod Wells.

The Labour Party did not win this election, but a few Liberal Democrat activists have ensured that we still get Rhodri Morgan and Labour today.

Rhodri Morgan is being elected as First Minister today, not because this Assembly believe that the Labour Party or that Rhodri Morgan is right for Wales, but because nobody wants fresh elections.

Fresh elections would be rightly seen as a waste of public money and a waste of everybody's time and energy, but had there been more breathing space, the 'rainbow' alliance would have been, I believe, a reality.

I have certainly not given up on a project that I think is worthwhile.

I think we need to work on a non-Labour alternative to the control 'top down', Big Brother knows best approach, of Rhodri Morgan and Labour, and I will continue, as will my party to strive for that alternative as the people of Wales deserve better."

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