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Cairns: Conservatives winning for Wales

Speech to the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Cardiff.

"Thank you Mr Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here today and to have the opportunity to respond to this excellent debate.

I am quite touched that so many have turned out to listen to my speech today - and I am sure if you are kind enough to stay for David Cameron, who follows me, I am sure he will be grateful!

I must say that I have been to a number of Conservative conferences over the years but the atmosphere this weekend is the best I have ever felt. Having spent many years re-grouping, our time has come.

Labour, Plaid and the Lib Dems know it. We have become the number one target of all parties. Just last weekend, the Labour Party seemed to spend all their time focussing on us from Llandudno.

First, Tony Blair, then Peter Hain and finally Rhodri Morgan - he gave us 30 mentions!

Well, I suppose even a tired and divided Party that has run out of ideas has to unite around something - and if it can't be policy, then let it be us. - because--

-They know that we're back in business, the mainstream, reflecting the needs of families, pensioners, communities, charities and businesses, and that their stale, tired, administration has come to an end.

Rhodri Morgan is the past and the Welsh Conservative Party, as we have proved this week is the future.

If only it was about failure and tired policies.

What about the embarrassment he has caused Wales over the last 8 years:

When people across the rest of the UK or around the world see the First Minister, they see our nation, they see Wales.

Now, some of his gaffes are quite humorous:

He's the only person ever to have won the Foot in Mouth Award twice from the Plain English Campaign - with

"Does a one legged duck swim in a circle"

and the last award, when he said:

"The only thing which isn't up for grabs is no change and I think it is fair to say, it's all to play for, except for no change."

But on other occasions we've all cringed with embarrassment at him being our so-called Ambassador.

The time when he said on National Television that he didn't have a view on the War in Iraq - every one saw him for the joke he is.

He then arrived late for the Her majesty the Queen on 2 separate occasions - once at Centenary of the Royal Welsh Show and later at her 80th Birthday Celebration

Just 3 weeks ago he said that Global warming wasn't all bad for Wales and that our climate would be more like that of Spain.

Last week he made a joke about Iain Paisley, irrespective of the sensitivities in Northern Ireland.

But the greatest insult of all was when Rhodri Morgan chose to go to a Golf Tournament, rather than mark the contribution of the brave men and women who fought for our country at the D-Day landing Commemorations in France.

In fairness, many of their aspirations, targets and goals have been positive but their delivery has been disastrous.

Who wouldn't want a better National Health Service, higher standards in schools, a greener environment and a more prosperous economy?

But Labour's delivery has resulted in

-longer waiting lists

-More pupils leaving school functionally illiterate

-Higher levels of greenhouse gasses

-And the widest wealth gap between Wales and the rest of the UK since records began.

That is the focus of my speech today. Labour has promised everything but has delivered very little, though you wouldn't think so, by listening to their SPIN, arrogance and obsession with good news announcements.

Promised everything but delivered little.

Claiming any Credit but none of the blame

Just last Tuesday, the Assembly government couldn't wait to associate itself with Toyota's announcement to secure 200 existing but by Wednesday they couldn't be bothered to speak a word on the 800 job losses at Airbus in Broughton. - Such is their arrogance to claim the credit but never to accept any responsibility.

All promises and little delivery. Any credit but none of the blame.

8 years ago, Rhodri Morgan, when he was Economic Development Minister, personally set a target to grow the Welsh economy from 82% of that of the UK to 90%. Obviously 100% and beyond was the ultimate goal but 90% was Rhodri Morgan's own target by 2010.

At that time we raised reservations over his capacity and ability to deliver, but he was adamant that he would achieve it. 2010 seemed a long way away at the time.

But the latest figures, published days before Christmas, show that figure has dropped from 82% to 78%.

Wales has officially become the poorest part of the United Kingdom. Their 90% target by 2010 is impossible to deliver and has been airbrushed from their strategy documents, leaflets and speeches.

All promises and no delivery. To accept any credit but none of the blame.

But the claim unemployment low, If so, why are we so poor? - the answer lies in the jobs they have created.

Growth in private sector jobs - from business and the independent sectors have increased by just 2% since 2000.

Growth in Civil servants, hospital managers and local council's has ballooned by 20%. Almost all the growth in new jobs in the economy has come from the public sector, from the public purse - a situation that is wholly unsustainable.

Don't get me wrong, some public sector jobs are needed and are welcome - nurses, doctors and teachers, for example. But we have to question the scale of growth in bureaucrats.

After all, the purpose of public sector jobs is not to make a financial profit, in the same way that a business is geared.

And that's part of the reason why Labour's policies have made Wales the poorest part of the UK.

Who was it that said you can't pull yourself up by your own boot straps.

Of, course, statistics mean nothing in themselves but being the poorest part of the UK means that we have more children suffering in poverty, more families homeless and more pensioners struggling with their bills and suffering with Labour's extortionate Council Tax increases.

Another reason for our relative poverty are the numbers of people who are of working age but not in work - so-called economically inactive. The rate here in Wales is far higher than the rest of the UK.

Many will be genuinely sick; others will claim to be sick but can be seen laying a patio on the weekend!

But others want to work and find it difficult, either because the have been failed by Labour's education system and lack the skills required in a modern economy or because they have a young family or and elderly relative that they care for.

Managing work and family responsibilities around the standard 9-5 schedule is not easy and overcoming this is core to our economic development theme.

Yes, we need to ensure a competitive environment

Yes, we need low business rates and low taxes

and Yes we need the right transport, road and IT infrastructure

All of which we will deliver.

But we also have an obligation to encourage and support employers to offer Parents and Carers a more flexible working environment and child care facilities.

Many firms, often the most productive and profitable, offer flexible working or home working arrangements for staff.

And it is our policy to offer a business rate relief package to firms that make flexible working or childcare support as the norm.

This has the possibility of transforming the quality of life for so many parents and carers. It will help deliver a more productive workforce and so many studies show how it helps improve a company's bottom line.

This Welsh Conservative Policy leads the way within our Party and across the UK. This policy has benefits for business and our economy as a whole as well as placing the family and children at the core of our policy agenda.

Much has been said of Objective 1 since the Assembly was first established. I don't want to repeat much of the argument about the lack of Match funds, but suffice to say that in view Labour has made us the poorest part of the UK and that we re-qualified for European Aid - or should I say, our own money coming back- ahead of many of the former, eastern block regions, whose economies have been described as basket cases, shows how badly Rhodri Morgan has failed to deliver.

Our approach for the next round of funding will be positive, focussed and local.

We want communities to decide how best to regenerate their economies. In particular, we want to offer a high level of support to our Seaside towns.

So many of these communities like Barry, Porthcawl, Llandudno, Rhyl and Tenby and others, have the capacity to be local economic hubs.

They have been crying out for investment for too long, we want these Tourist Towns to be refurbished and restored to their former splendour.

Short haul flights are becoming less acceptable on environmental grounds and our policies will help drive prosperity for all parts of Wales to celebrate.

These are just 2 of our economic policies in the run up to the election.

Naturally, we will also focus on delivering skills and providing effective, efficient support for businesses through a voucher scheme, improved railway stations and infrastructure and a road network that meets the needs of the modern economy

We will ensure that more public sector contracts in Wales go to Welsh based firms - and restore the business rate relief scheme that Rhodri Morgan has stolen from so many rural businesses -

So the choice is clear. Clearly targeted economic policies to help families and businesses delivering a more prosperous economy or the continuation of Rhodri Morgan's tired, administration that fails to deliver in almost everything other than making Wales the poorest part of the UK.

Or a Welsh Conservative Party that cares about people, cares about families, cares about pensioners.

A party that has:

Positive policies for a business for a better economy,

That will deliver prompt, efficient, clean treatment from a National Health Service focussed around patients,

That has the capacity to forge higher standards in schools, colleges and universities

That will protect our environment and help reduce climate change

That will help families and carers get back to work

and a Party that wants lower council taxes for pensioners, in the first instance.

Let's go out and campaign to win. To win for Wales, to win it for our Nation and set up David Cameron to be the next elected Prime Minister."

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