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Lyndon Jones: Welsh Conservatives go from strength to strength

Speech to the Welsh Conservative Party policy forum conference.

"Good Morning. What an amazing year we've had

It was interesting to read in an article in the Western Mail this morning that said 'It's a worrying sign for the Government that more attention is being given to what the Opposition are up to than what is happening in the Labour Party. It's not rocket science to conclude that the interest is due to the fact that people are taking the idea of a Tory government seriously again'.

Isn't it great to be ahead in the opinion polls. And wasn't David Cameron right to say that he could explain his priorities in three letters - NHS.

Because today more people trust us to run the NHS than Labour. We've made a great start, but we've still got a long way to go.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to you all for the work you have done for the Welsh Conservative Party over the last year, and for the help and support you have given me. I really appreciate it.

I would also like to thank the Wales Conservative Clubs for all the support they give us, by providing rooms for meetings and events free of charge, the help many of their members give to local associations and for the financial contributions they have given the Welsh Conservative Party during the year.

And at this point I would like to congratulate Jonathan Evans on his election as UK Chairman of the Association of Conservative Clubs in addition to his role as President of the Wales Conservative Clubs.

We have a great team in Wales. The Welsh Board has never been more united, and I thank members for all the work they do in particular my Deputies Barrie Harding, Catrin Edwards, and two of our Area Chairmen, Cllr. Paxton Hood Williams and Tony Jukes.

Barrie for amongst other things, for organising today. And Catrin and her team for organising the excellent Blue Dragon Dinner in London, and for the work she is now doing in organising the Drinks Reception in London on the 22nd November - and if any of you would like to attend, or you have relations or friends in London who would like to attend, please let Catrin know.

Because both these events will bring new money into Wales to help fight our campaign.

And I would like to wish Cheryl Gillan, our Shadow Secretary of State for Wales a speedy recovery, and I hope she is out of hospital soon.

She has become a great friend and is doing a fantastic job on our behalf, and Cheryl being Cheryl is still working from her hospital bed!

And of course, the man who makes it all possible, our Director Matthew Lane, who has made such a difference in Wales since his appointment just two years ago.

He is making sure that we are better organised for these elections than ever before. Even if he doesn't give me any time off!

I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous help and support the party chairman, Francis Maude gives to us in Wales.

In addition to my role Chairman of the Welsh Conservative Party, I also sit on the UK Board, the Candidates Committee and the Strategy Group, and therefore as you can imagine, I regularly travel to London.

One evening travelling home by train, there was a woman sitting opposite me, busily reading a book.

Well you know what it's like, after a while I got a bit nosey, and tried to see what she was reading.

And what a book 'Elements of Murder - a history of poison'. I asked myself, who reads a book like that. One thing was certain - I decided that I was not going to leave my cup of tea unattended!

In Wales, Welsh Conservatives have increased their representation at all levels of government since 1999.

In the Welsh Assembly, 11 Assembly Members under Nick Bourne's excellent leadership.

In Europe, Jonathan Evans kicking the Nationalists into 3rd place in the European elections.

At Westminster, the three people who made sure that Wales was NOT a tory free zone - Stephen Crabb, David Davies and David Jones.

And in Local Government where our local councillors throughout Wales do a great job on our behalf and are great ambassadors for our party.

Today, we lead in Monmouth, and the Vale of Glamorgan and are in coalition in Conwy, Denbighshire, Swansea and Bridgend, and we hold the balance of power in Cardiff.

Who would have believed it! During the year we've also had a few defections to us. Alison Halford from Labour. Rene Kinzett from the Liberal Democrats. And I am currently talking to yet another high profile person who is keen to defect to us.

And of course The Welsh Conservative Party has a new logo. One thing is for sure - Welsh Conservatives are back in business.

As we all know, it's been the Party Conference season. I am sure we all had a few late nights, even very late nights - which only proves we most certainly are 'Built to Last'.

At our conference in Bournemouth, we set out a new direction for Wales and Britain. This was particularly important for Welsh Conservatives as we prepare for the Welsh Assembly Elections in May next year.

Tony Blair and Rhodri Morgan's Labour Party promised so much but have delivered so little. People in Wales feel let down by Labour. And we must grasp that opportunity. We have no time to lose. Because there are just 194 days to polling day in the Welsh Assembly Elections, and I ask you to remember two things:

Firstly - we're in it to win it. And secondly - we are the only credible alternative to Labour in Wales.

We have selected many first class candidates. A number of them here today. But finding good candidates is up to us all - yes all of us. Our Welsh Assembly Assessment Board is in the process of assessing people for the approved list of candidates

For the first time the system is now similar to the one used to assessing Parliamentary candidates. Sadly, not all candidates are successful. But by using this system, it has added value to the process, and people are assessed on a whole range of skills.

So I want you all to be on the lookout for good candidates, to join our approved list. We have also been involved in a huge consultation exercise from inside and outside the party.

I thank those of you who have been contributing through the Welsh Conservative forum policy discussion papers. But we've also been consulting teachers, doctors nurses, people in business, the list goes on and on.

And do you know many of them have told us - thanks for asking - because despite all our years of experience, we've never been asked before.

And as a result, we are developing exciting policies home grown in Wales in those areas that have been devolved to the National Assembly.

Last years Welsh Conservative Party conference at Llandudno was one of our most successful ever. So at our conference in March 2007, we must do even better, because it is important that we show the enthusiasm that we are going to put into our election campaign.

And I am therefore delighted to announce that the 2007 Welsh Conservative conference will be held on Saturday, 3rd and Sunday, 4th March at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club

The sporting arena, which was recently awarded Test Match ground status and will stage one of the 2009 Ashes games between England and Australia, will host our two day Conference which will take place just weeks before the Welsh Assembly Elections.

In these elections, there will be no no-go areas for us. We will be taking our policies out to the people. At these elections, we will be building on the many achievements, which show that Welsh Conservatives are not only leading the debate in Wales, but also winning the argument about what is best for Wales.

And our successes in these elections are not only important in their own right, but they are stepping-stones to our success in winning back more seats at Westminster in the next General Election.

Since the election of David Cameron as Leader there is a new mood of change, hope and optimism. And Welsh Conservatives are playing their full part. As we build a modern, compassionate Welsh Conservative Party. That will stand up for the people of Wales and Britain as it is today.

In May next year, Welsh Conservatives have the opportunity to become a real force in Welsh politics. That is our challenge."

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