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Gillan: A change for the better in Wales

Speech to the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Cardiff.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. It is really good to be back home in Cardiff and looking at such an enthusiastic audience.

This venue at Sophia Gardens holds a special place in my heart as I spent hours watching cricket sitting on the grass with my father.

You certainly look much happier than that lot in Llandudno last weekend.

Hardly a smile amongst them as they gave the last rights to their Labour leaders.

Rhodri Morgan, Less the James Bond of Welsh Politics more the Worzel Gummidge.

A politician who truly opens his mouth to change feet.

Tony Blair who is stage-managing more farewell performances than a Hollywood has been.

And Peter Hain who really thought he was at the Oscars

He thanked his mother, he thanked his father, he thanked his make up artist.

In fact the only thing he didn't thank was his Aga.

But I must start by some thankyous.

Firstly thank you to Lyndon Jones and all the Welsh Board who are leading our Party in Wales from strength to strength.

Then that amazing Director, Matt Lane who heads our crack team of professionals throughout Wales. What would we do without them?

On the political front we have our man in Europe Jonathan Evans,

And my 3 first class Parliamentary colleagues Stephen Crabb, David TC Davies and of course my hard working deputy David Jones.

Last but certainly not least our valiant Assembly team and our candidates headed up by Nick Bourne

They will be leading the fight in May to take our Welsh Conservative message to the electors and we wish them every success at the polls.

A year ago, when we met in Llandudno, we were starting a political journey.

A journey to revitalise the Party.

A journey to show we have changed.

And we have changed and will continue to change under our leader who we will welcome here tomorrow, David Cameron

Since we met last more than 25,000 new members have joined the Conservative Party.

We have even welcomed people from all the other parties who have been attracted by our fresh vision of modern conservatism.

In the council elections last year people gave their verdict on the Labour Government by rewarding our candidates at the ballot box showing that these changes can be translated into electoral success.

This year, for the first time in ….. years, we have hit the 42% in the polls which if sustained could deliver us victory at the next general election

Now we are facing the next step - the assembly elections.

And I want to tell you we are ready for them.

On May 3rd we will offer a positive message for Wales.

A message of hope and optimism.

Not for the few but for everyone.

Labour would like you to believe that we are only for the elite

But we are a party for everyone.

We are developing policies that will match people's aspirations and offer each and every person a better quality of life and the opportunity to fulfil their own potential.

Our messengers, carrying our policies to the voter, are our candidates.

Many of whom are here.

And I am pleased to tell you that:

A third of our candidates are in their 40s

A third of our candidates are in their 30s

And a third of our candidates are in their 20s

These are our politicians for the future.

In Wales and Westminster we have been working together.

Working up policies to improve the long-term prospects for our country.

Nick Bourne is setting out ideas and policies that will ensure the Assembly makes a real difference to peoples' lives.

Policies for women and families - like increased access to childcare and promoting flexible working.

Policies for the older generation like council tax rebates for pensioners.

Policies for patients such as improving access to modern medicines.

Policies for our young people like investing in better training and more affordable housing.

We know our core beliefs of social mobility, a strong economy and safer streets are good conservative aims.

But we need to have new Conservative ways of delivering them.

So we are bringing a maturity to our politics which means we are not afraid to agree with other parties if we think that what they are doing is right for the country.

But we will also stand against those parties when we know they offer poor solutions to the challenges facing 21st century Britain.

We also know that one size does not fit all.

So in the spirit of localism and trusting people we will have some policies made in Wales for Wales.

We have the confidence to set out our vision with its own Welsh character designed by our Assembly politicians for delivery in Wales.

We also have a core task.

The centre ground has been populated by a Labour Party that was hungry for power.

But, It has delivered its solutions in terms of regulation, legislation and stifling bureaucracy.

Short term solutions, delivered by a centralised and inflexible State machinery and causing ever growing problems.

After a decade of the Labour approach to Government we can now count the failures.

Nearly 2 million pensioners failing to receive the benefits they are due.

Thousands of our children leaving school each year with no qualifications

The average family now paying £9,000 more a year in taxes than in 1997

And an increase in violent crime, drug dependency and family breakdown which unless tackled will damage our country irreparably.

The task we face in Wales and in Westminster is to reverse this decline.

This is not just a task for politicians but for all of us.

We are all in this together.

We do not have the arrogance that marks out labour's style of government that believes that the state knows best.

We know that to build a better Britain we must not just roll back the State but roll forward the frontiers of society.

We must continue to focus on setting a new direction for politics and addressing what people want.

We know that health care is vital to every family.

We are committed to improving the NHS for everyone rather than helping the few opt out.

Under Labour we have seen hospital waiting lists double and bureaucracy rocket,

The lack of priority given by the Welsh Assembly Government to the NHS now means it receives the lowest level of NHS funding per head of all our four home countries

In Wales the result is that one in ten people are waiting for an operation and waiting lists are longer than in 1997

What is being delivered in Wales is not a health service as it was promised and for which Welsh people pay through their taxes

With less than half the adults in Wales registered with an NHS dentist it may be free at the point of delivery… but for dentistry, there is no point of delivery!

We have seen confidence and morale in the NHS plummet.

We want to restore that confidence, and are committed to putting doctors and nurses, not politicians, firmly in the driving seat.

Social justice and family life go hand in hand.

That is why David Cameron is leading the debate on the issues that worry parents the most - issues such as childcare and flexible working, issues such as drugs and violence in our community.

That is why the family is at the heart of our thinking.

We are setting out our values on issues such as immigration, drug rehabilitation, marriage and the tax system.

So we are addressing the safety of our borders.

After discovering in North Wales that the police have been arresting people suspected of being in our country illegally, only to be told by another part of the Home Office to release them before making the necessary checks, once again raises serious questions over Labour's competence to run our Home Office.

They even suggested that they should provide them with a helpful map showing them the route to Liverpool.

We certainly do need Conservatives in charge of the Home Office.

It is clearly not fit for the purpose and it would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

These are exciting times to be a conservative and we can all share in that excitement.

We want to engage with people and ensure our politics meet their needs

To reach government we will need to work even harder to make our party relevant for today's challenges.

People have been losing their trust and faith in politicians and we must restore that link

Labour's obsession with spin and headline grabbing initiatives has turned voters off.

People want straight talking politicians who match their words with deeds.

We don't have to be in government to make a difference and that's why we've already started launching social action projects across the country.

The Young Adult Trust, David Cameron's personal initiative, is working with young people to turn their lives around.

And it even extends to painting and decorating.

I took pride in working with a team of my colleagues to physically refurbish a church in Bournemouth during our conference there last year.

Just 2 examples of direct action by Conservatives making a difference.

We need to give people a reason to vote and I believe we have that Heineken factor, the agenda that can reach those parts that other politicians cannot reach.

We have an agenda for the young,

an agenda for the farmer,

for the sick and the elderly, the mother, the family, the entrepreneur or just the hard working man or woman we have an agenda of hope

But we also have firm values to help us deal with the criminal, the vandal, the terrorist and for poverty, drug dependency and illiteracy, the destroyers in our society.

We have a positive agenda for Wales, a strong and proud country firmly anchored inside our United Kingdom

Contrast this with the negative carping campaign of Rhodri Morgan and Peter Hain, trapped on a treadmill spewing out messages of hatred and pessimism to try and undermine our political progress with the propaganda of fear.

Well, we will not let that happen as we build our party with real policies for real people.

Rhodri Morgan has said that the Assembly elections are all about turnout. I agree with him.

That is why every vote for the Welsh Conservative Party will help put Conservative policies on the map

Every Conservative vote could save Wales from four more years of tired Labour rule.

Just as importantly every conservative vote will stave off the dangers of Plaid - the party of isolation and inconsistency.

The party which received £300,000 from a London donor but called for money raised only in Wales to be spent on the Assembly elections.

The party who says it supports the Defence training academy at St Athan but calls for all military training and recruitment to be halted in Wales.

The party who's parliamentary leader condemned the PM for failing to attend a commons debate on Iraq, but failed to attend his own party's debate on Iraq because he was on a fact finding mission in Madrid.

And that Conservative vote could save Wales being ripped from the heart of the United Kingdom by a party who we believe is preparing to do a deal to keep Labour in office after the elections.

The message is clear fail to vote - get Labour.

Vote Labour get labour,

Vote Plaid get labour.

And we don't want that.

Now I know there are some of you here today who question the Assembly.

I question the Assembly because it is run by a useless and shambolic set of Labour politicians.

But, we could change the political landscape,

Conservatives could have a much greater part to play in the running of the Assembly if we turn our fire on the real enemy and turn out our vote.

The labour governments in Wales and Westminster have betrayed their supporters and betrayed their voters.

UNDER LABOUR: UNICEF has shown that Britain's children are the worst off in the developed world

UNDER LABOUR: for the first time the average Welsh homeowner will be paying more than £1000 in council tax

UNDER LABOUR: Nearly a quarter of a million families in Wales are on benefits

UNDER LABOUR: 1 in 5 Welsh households has no-one in employment

UNDER LABOUR: 3500 jobs have been lost since they scrapped the Welsh Development Agency

UNDER LABOUR: Farmers' incomes have dropped 43% since 1997

UNDER LABOUR: Our Post Offices are closing,

our prisons are overflowing

and our borders are worthless

Wales deserves a change

For too long the Labour Party has dominated this proud nation, taking it's peoples' votes for granted, building its empire on the backs of people it believes would not have the courage to vote for another party.

I know the people of Wales are better than that and deserve better than that

From the words of Peter Hain:

The Tories are the most successful election winning political party in the world,

there is a very real danger of a Tory first minister in Wales, David Cameron seems new and fresh

And the Tories are on the up

Let's prove Mr 3 jobs, 1 ballroom and an Aga Hain correct

Let's go out on May 3rd and Vote Welsh Conservative for a change, a much needed change."

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