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Melding: Labour's free school breakfasts deception

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"The Mike German award for mixed metaphors goes to Janet this afternoon; I congratulate her on that startling image. I want to return to the issue of free school breakfasts. I try never to miss breakfast, because it is an important meal that sets you up for the day.

It was an eye-catching promise when the Labour Party made it during the last election, and it was at the core of the 10 promises contained in its manifesto.

If a party cannot deliver on its key pledges or cannot conceive of those promises in a coherent way, it must be brought to book.

I find it quite miserable that members of the Labour Party have stood up and said, 'Of course, we never meant everyone when we said "all"—we only meant about 3 per cent of the population'. I have before me the relevant quotation from the Labour manifesto, which is:

'Free school breakfasts for all school kids'.

It was discovered on an Easter egg hunt: they had lots of children running around a field finding Easter eggs with promises on. In fairness, it was good campaigning, as it caught the interest of the media.

However, did anyone from the Labour Party then tell the media, 'When we say "all", we mean a certain proportion, which we now realise is 3 per cent'?

The Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills is lucky that the chamber is circular, because if it was in the shape of a classroom she would have been sent to the naughty corner a long time ago for not doing her homework.

That is the essential point, because all parties are now in the process of preparing manifestos for the 2007 election, and they are important documents. An effective and honest manifesto is at the heart of an accountable and trusted democratic Government.

If we aspire to be a Government, we all have a duty to present a manifesto that is honestly conceived. This has been the problem: some of the promises that the Labour Party made at the last election were drawn up very quickly and without effective preparation.

The Permanent Secretary offers all political parties a chance to have their main promises examined from a legal and financial point of view and validated, if they wish to go through that procedure.

The opposition parties have that right, but the governing party has three or four years in the preparation of its next manifesto to look at all kinds of policy developments that it might wish to make, and to ensure that what it says could be delivered.

This Government has shown that it has failed on the most basic requirement necessary for people to trust their Government."

"Aiff gwobr Mike German am gymysgu trosiadau i Janet y prynhawn yma; yr wyf yn ei llongyfarch am y ddelwedd ysgytwol honno. Hoffwn ddychwelyd at gwestiwn brecwast ysgol am ddim. Ceisiaf beidio byth â cholli brecwast, oherwydd mae'n bryd pwysig sy'n eich paratoi ar gyfer y dydd.

Yr oedd yn addewid oedd yn cipio'r sylw pan wnaethpwyd ef gan y Blaid Lafur yn ystod yr etholiad diwethaf, ac yr oedd wrth graidd y 10 addewid a geid yn ei maniffesto. Os na all plaid gyflawni ei haddewidion allweddol neu os na all synio am yr addewidion hynny mewn ffordd gydlynol, rhaid ei dal i gyfrif.

Mae'n resynus i mi fod aelodau o'r Blaid Lafur wedi sefyll a dweud, 'Wrth gwrs, nid oeddem byth yn golygu pawb pan ddywedasom "pob"—dim ond rhyw 3 y cant o'r boblogaeth oedd gennym mewn golwg'. Mae gennyf o'm blaen y dyfyniad perthnasol o faniffesto Llafur, sef:

'Brecwast am ddim i bob plentyn mewn ysgol gynradd'.

Fe'i darganfuwyd ar helfa wyau Pasg: yr oedd ganddynt lu o blant yn rhedeg o gwmpas cae yn dod o hyd i wyau Pasg gydag addewidion arnynt. I fod yn deg, yr oedd yn ymgyrchu da, gan iddo ennyn diddordeb y cyfryngau.

Fodd bynnag, a ddywedodd unrhyw un o'r Blaid Lafur wrth y cyfryngau wedyn, 'Pan ddywedwn "bob", golygwn gyfran arbennig, y sylweddolwn erbyn hyn ei bod yn 3 y cant'? Mae'r Gweinidog dros Addysg, Dysgu Gydol Oes a Sgiliau'n ffodus fod y siambr yn grwn, oherwydd pe bai ar ffurf ystafell ddosbarth buasid wedi ei hanfon i gornel y plant drwg ers meitin am beidio â gwneud ei gwaith cartref.

Dyna'r pwynt hanfodol, oherwydd mae'r pleidiau i gyd bellach wrthi'n paratoi maniffestos ar gyfer etholiad 2007, ac maent yn ddogfennau pwysig. Mae maniffesto effeithiol a gonest wrth galon Llywodraeth ddemocrataidd y gellir ei dwyn i gyfrif ac ymddiried ynddi.

Os rhoddwn ein bryd ar ffurfio Llywodraeth, mae gennym i gyd ddyletswydd i gyflwyno maniffesto sydd wedi'i lunio'n ddidwyll. Dyma fu'r broblem: yr oedd rhai o'r addewidion a wnaeth y Blaid Lafur yn yr etholiad diwethaf wedi'u llunio'n gyflym iawn a heb baratoad effeithiol.

Mae'r Ysgrifennydd Parhaol yn cynnig cyfle i bob plaid wleidyddol gael archwilio'u prif addewidion o safbwynt cyfreithiol ac ariannol a'u dilysu, os dymunant fynd drwy'r drefn honno. Mae gan y gwrthbleidiau'r hawl honno, ond mae gan y blaid lywodraethol dair i bedair blynedd wrth baratoi ei maniffesto nesaf i edrych ar bob math o ddatblygiad polisi y gallai ddymuno eu gwneud, ac i sicrhau y gellid cyflawni'r hyn a ddywed.

Mae'r Llywodraeth hon wedi dangos ei bod wedi methu ar y gofyniad mwyaf sylfaenol sydd yn angenrheidiol i bobl ymddiried yn eu Llywodraeth."

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