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Bourne: Reasons to be cheerful

To the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Llandudno.

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be back in Llandudno.

Mae'n bleser bod yn ol gyda chi yn Llandudno. Mae hi wedi bod yn flwyddyn fawr!

Mae Aelodau Seneddol Ceidwadol gyda ni unwaith yn rhagor a dwi'n eu llongyfarch. Llafur ar gyfeiliorn yng Nghaerdydd a Sant Steffan.

David Cameron fel arweinydd. Awn o nerth i nerth!

It's been a great year. We have Welsh Conservative MPs again - and I congratulate them.

Labour off the rails - in Cardiff and Westminster. David Cameron as leader. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?!

We have an exciting future ahead. David Cameron has set in place an agenda that will look at ways to tackle the biggest challenges Britain faces today, like global poverty, climate change, social justice and public service improvement.

Crucially important issues. He has a strong team behind him.

Cheryl Gillan, our new Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, is part of that team. She has made a fantastic start - picking up her brief in double quick time, showing enormous commitment and enthusiasm.

Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly have many reasons to be cheerful.

Over the past year, we have had important victories in the Assembly on issues that make a difference to the every day lives of the people of Wales.

Labour's minority government has suffered significant defeats and the government has had to sit up and listen to Conservative thinking on more than one occasion.

Walk-in centres will become a part of the Welsh health service - a vital additional frontline service - thanks to a Welsh Conservative motion. A very positive way of providing immediate help to patients.

Top up fees scrapped for Welsh students at Welsh universities - also thanks to a Welsh Conservative motion.

Devolution making a difference - different even from the Conservatives at Westminster.

We secured an investigation into the Ecoli outbreak in our schools; and a committee on school funding.

We voted down the Labour draft budget, securing extra help for pensioners, education and transport.

Most recently we forced Labour to rethink their plans for the Arts Council.

More successes I'm sure will follow. Welsh Conservatives are making a clear and positive difference.

I would like to thank my Assembly colleagues for all their outstanding work, a fantastic team - and I look forward to more Members next time.

Rhodri Morgan's leadership has been one of unfulfilled promise. Like Blair, he has lost his touch. We have Labour lame duck leaders in Westminster and Wales.

But, unlike Blair, Rhodri doesn't have a view on the Iraq war. He must be the only person in the world not to have a view on the Iraq war - our First Minister.

Of course, he is adept at causing embarrassment to Wales - remember the D Day landings?

He heads a tired administration, empty of ideas. Hollow gimmicks and cheap headlines don't count for much if you have been waiting over a year on a hospital waiting list or your child's school is struggling with a funding crisis.

If you are a pensioner, you will dread opening your council tax bill. Council taxes have literally doubled under Labour. And the state pension has simply not kept pace.

The Finance Minister has already warned of further inflation busting increases - Labour has a strange understanding of social justice.

So much for their record, what of their promises?An uncosted proposal for school breakfasts - first for all pupils, then for some pupils, then for some pupils at some schools.

Most recently the promise of free home care for the disabled has been dropped - a dishonest, shameful cynical breach of faith with a vulnerable group.

Judge a political party by breach of faith with the vulnerable - that is the Labour party in 2006.

Rhodri's most spectacular mess over the past 12 months has been his 'bonfire of the quangos' - and it has been some bonfire - a very long fuse, explosive and dangerous.

We have long called for a streamlining of the quangos. What was needed was a thorough consultation process and proper strategic thinking - but that's just not Labour's style.

They preferred to rush headlong into chaos, alienating members of the arts and business communities in one fell swoop.

So what have we got? Politicisation of the arts. Loss of business expertise. Snubbing of the Welsh Language Board. WDA pensions threatened. Uncertainty, confusion, chaos. Rhodri's big idea; Wales' big headache.

Another example of Labour's arrogance has been their handling of the Government of Wales Bill. A stitch up from start to finish. Designed to serve the interests of the Labour party, enshrining an electoral bias, it has been slammed by the Electoral Commission.

Only in the Ukraine - prior to 2002 - has dual candidacy been banned. Trust old Labour Rhodri to find the most discredited electoral system in Europe and mimic it.

Ukraine's tyrant then poisoned the Leader of the Opposition - I trust that fate does not await me!!

Rushed through the House of Commons without proper scrutiny, the Bill proposes extra powers for the Assembly without the say so of the people of Wales. Cobbled together to hide the internal warfare in the Labour party, it fails to clear up basic constitutional questions.

Peter Hain - the master salesman - alters his sales pitch depending on whether he is addressing Parliament or the Assembly. Looking for a quick sale he's sold out on his principles.

Rigged elections, rigged committees, a referendum denied, Labour MPs bought off, Richard report buried; the result another fine mess.

It might all look more like Mickey Mouse than Machiavelli but Wales deserves better than cartoon politics.

We deserve a serious discussion on these matters of national importance. Welsh Conservatives are absolutely clear on this.

More powers means a referendum: it is for the people of Wales to alter Wales' constitution - not Labour Westminster politicians.

What of the other parties?

Plaid have failed to keep pace. Out-performed by Welsh Conservative AMs they have every reason to look nervous in their seats. No wonder they are rebranding.

But what of that rebranding after an expensive focus group and consultation exercise? They drop Wales from the party title and adopt a yellow poppy!

I've looked up the Welsh poppy. One website says the Welsh poppy 'is bright and cheerful, but it makes a nuisance of itself once it finds its way into your garden'.

Fair comment - would you want them in your garden?

As for the Lib Dems…well, what can I say? It's probably safer not to.

Labour is concentrating their fire on us, on the Welsh Conservative party. We have them rattled and they should be.

I would like to thank everyone for taking part in our policy consultation process.

The hard work is not over yet; we have just begun circulating a policy paper on economic development and papers on local government and the constitution follow shortly.

It is a very worthwhile process. I know there has been some lively debate on issues from school funding to energy policy; that is as I would wish.

Vibrant discussions on the way forward for the Welsh Conservative party and for Wales.

Our policy renewal process will set us in good stead as we begin the drafting stages of the manifesto. We have some exciting ideas already in place.

I believe Wales should have its own National Art Gallery and National Records Office - like England and Scotland.

Our National Eisteddfod also needs greater support if it is to have a viable future - and it must have.

We are looking at further ways to help pensioners. We have already secured funding to help with security and heating but we want to go even further and find ways of reducing council tax bills.

We want the over 60s to have the right to free health checks as a matter of course.

I want to make it much easier for social enterprise to grow in Wales - those involved in voluntary and non-profit organisations, providing a social benefit to our communities, whether it be a recycling business, helping people into work or helping those with drink and drugs problems.

These people and groups must be encouraged not hampered. They deserve our help - and they will have it.

For the Welsh economy as a whole, we can breathe new life into business by reducing regulation and streamlining support.

David Cameron is absolutely right to place tackling climate change at the heart of our agenda. Our environment is precious and fragile.

Here in North Wales, we cherish the mountains of Snowdonia, our seaside towns, family farms and impressive coastline.

In this global age, we cannot shirk our responsibility for tough decisions on energy and waste.

We hold the Welsh environment in trust for future generations. It is a humbling responsibility but one we have very much at heart.

Welsh Labour is out of date, out of fashion and out of steam.

In a year's time the Assembly elections will be upon us. So it's now that we have to put the groundwork in place.

We have the candidates; the energy; the buzz; the vision. Welsh Conservatives are on the up.

We have a real opportunity to change the face of Welsh politics. We have the sharpest operation in the Assembly and we will build on our success.

We face a once in a generation opportunity as a political party to tackle all the great issues of our age with an exciting reinvigorated agenda on issues of global poverty, social justice, the environment and quality public services.

It is an opportunity that we must seize for all the people of Wales.

Seize it we will and together we will win."

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