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Wiggin: Wales deserves better than Labour

Speech to the Welsh Conservative Party conference

"Bore da, a croeso i'r Cynhadledd y Blaid Geidwadol Gymreig

Are you looking forward to the general election?

I am thirsting for this coming fight.

We are fighting to win - We are fighting for real success, we are fighting because Wales deserves so much better.

We can achieve it because our team here is of outstanding quality.

We have our great Welsh-born leader in whom we all have great pride and behind whom we are all united.

We have a magnificent team in the Assembly who work continuously and diligently for Wales.

We have 40 magnificent candidates, candidates who are eager to give their all to the forthcoming campaign.

We have hard-working local councillors all across Wales. But as well as all this, we have you - supporters, campaigners and activists. More members than Labour and the Liberal Democrats put together, and all of much better quality!

You all deserve the greatest thanks for working so hard for the Conservatives in Wales.

And for all the work you are going to do, our success will be due to Michael Howard's leadership, to your dedication and commitment, and our united determination to oust the failing government. And also because Labour have failed us all so badly.

Wales is a country full of people with determination, who work hard, and are passionate about what they want and believe.

People who just want to be able to walk safely on their streets.

Who want know that their hospitals will be clean. Who want to know that they can access health care without ridiculously long waiting lists.

That their children will be safe and well-educated at school, and truly given the best start in life, and the chance to become independent, successful adults.

People who want to have their hard-earned money spent wisely, not frittered away on things they will never benefit from.

People who want to see innocent citizens protected and criminals punished - not the other way round.

People who have a pride in Wales and in Britain.

People who believe in responsibility, freedom, and choice. People who have been let down by Labour.

Labour in Westminster and Cardiff have had 8 long years to deliver their promises. All they have proved is that they are all talk.

Their only approach is to throw money at problems, even if it cannot deliver the solution. They are simply wasting our hard-earned cash - so then they increase taxes. Labour's third term tax increases.

It's a pretty lousy deal, isn't it? 66 tax increases, Council tax through the roof, at 8 times the rate of inflation. For what?

Huge and ever-expanding waiting lists, NHS staff in despair, crime rising, a million violent crimes a year, schools battling a lack of discipline over which they have no control. Immigration in chaos, bans on hunting, smacking children, advertising certain food, smoking in public.

The party who came to power inheriting a successful economy, and the trust and belief of the people in what they could achieve, have done so very little.

In fact, what they have done, has all gone the wrong way. Under Labour, every person in the country now pays an average £42 a week more in tax. Under Labour, it has become almost impossible to save and have a pension.

Council tax bills in Wales have increased by an average of £392 since 1997 - that's 8 times the rate of inflation.

Some areas of Wales, such as Powys, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire, have seen a staggering increase of over 100%.

And so much of our money is being wasted - flushed down the drain of Government waste.

In Wales we need look no further than the £67 million spent on the Assembly building.

An unbelievably excessive expenditure - 570% more than originally proposed.

At the same time the cost of Assembly bureaucrats has increased by 80%. There are more bureaucrats in the Welsh health department than practise nurses in GP surgeries.

We all know the horror of waiting lists in Wales. Labour's mismanagement has had catastrophic effects on Welsh hospitals and healthcare.

After a 40% increase in expenditure, we still see waiting times of over 2 years for some suffering patients.

One in ten people in Wales is on a waiting list.

Waiting lists rose by an unbelievable 83% under Jane Hutt.

The latest figures show 298,000 people waiting for treatment.

As Florence Nightingale said, "the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm".

5000 people will die in the UK from hospital borne infection this year - more than are killed on the roads.

Hospital beds are blocked, patients are left outside as ambulances queue up, new wards lie unopened, and technology lies unused because of staff and funding shortages.

Hard working NHS staff are unable to deliver the standard of care they so badly want to give.

Medical staff admit to being "desperate" and facing situations "the worst it has ever been". So much for Labour's '24 hours to save the NHS'.

Truancy is increasing. For all the efforts of teachers and parents, Wales remains one of the worst areas in the UK for unauthorised absences from school.

1.7% of school sessions in Wales are missed due to truanting, compared to 1.1% in England.

Rural schools are facing unnecessary closure.

School discipline is crumbling.

Teachers find themselves unable to control pupils who they have expelled - only to be returned to the same school.

Even their flagship schemes, such as free school breakfasts, are nothing more than a pre-election con.

They intended to woo voters, but never intended to feed all children. From £1.50 of promise to 30p worth of delivery on what breakfasts they do provide!

While our medical staff and teachers struggle to manage under failing policies, Labour slaps on more red tape and bureaucracy. The same applies to our police forces.

For all their time and effort, anti-social behaviour and violent crimes are soaring in Wales.

Drug crime costs our nation more than is spent on education. Gun crime in Wales has almost doubled. And while crime keeps going up, only 35% of crimes in Wales are solved.

More than 7 in 10 burglars escape unpunished.

Labour have had enough chances on crime. It's time for action.

Action on crime.

Action on asylum,

Action on immigration.

Their handling of immigration has resulted in chaos and lack of control. This leads to injustice, resentment and tragedy on all sides.

It isn't fair on us, or on those who come here through the proper channels, with good and worthy reasons to be here.

It's not even fair for those who come here illegally. They are easy targets for criminal gangs.

So what has Labour done for Wales? The government sided against Wales denying the Welsh Regiments the right to keep their own names.

First they hit the regiments with the blow of amalgamation. As a former Royal Welch Fusilier I was incensed by this. But now the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales have been denied the dignity of even retaining their names.

There is no doubt in my mind that the regiments should keep their proud names - as battalion names, before the new Regimental name.

The government's choice is a clear case of anti-Welsh double-standards. The Scottish regiments have this concession - why not us? We do not have to put up with this sort of treatment.

People might think that they don't have a choice when they vote in Wales. It's up to us to prove to them that they do. We don't have to put up with a government that promises one thing and delivers nothing. We don't have to put up with a government that just doesn't know the meaning of telling us the plain and simple truth.

We don't have to put up with a government that fails us, time and time again. It makes me so angry when I think of how much people have to put up with under Labour.

Under Labour, parts of Wales now face worse GDP levels than ex-Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe, such as Lithuania and Slovenia.

The pay gap between Wales and other parts of the UK is ever increasing. Employment levels still drag almost 4% behind those of England.

Yet as we all well know, Wales has huge potential.

We all deserve better than the way Labour treats us.

Conservatives offer a real, accountable alternative. We can give Wales what the people want - the chance to live free and independent lives, in a secure environment, safe in the knowledge that public services will be up to scratch.

It's not much to ask really. That's why we can deliver - on so many issues where Labour have failed so miserably. We will give our hard working medical staff, teachers and police the control they deserve, over the invaluable public services they provide for us.

And we will give back choice to everyone, choice on where to be treated if you are ill, choice on where to send your children to school.

We will bring matrons and cleanliness back to hospitals, and fund patients to seek treatment elsewhere if they so wish.

We will not introduce top-up fees, which would increase unfairness and limit students' opportunities, condemning those who want a higher education to tens of thousands of pounds of debt.

Under Conservative proposals, persistent and dangerous criminals will be kept where they need to be - in prison.

When Michael Howard was Home Secretary, crime fell by 18%. We know that the way to cut crime is to make sure that it doesn't pay. So, we will end Labour's early release scheme and introduce honest sentencing.

We will build more prisons,and hugely increase drug rehabilitation places to battle the scourge of drug abuse.

Wales will get 2199 more police officers. We will give our police more independence and bring accountability to a local level - not from the remote corners of Whitehall.

We will also take back control of the immigration and asylum system. Under the Conservatives, immigration will have set limits - but will ensure true safety and security for those who deserve to be here.

We will leave the Welsh Regiments untouched,

Safely preserving their proud history as they deserve to remain.

We will make savings from cutting back on the ludicrous waste of the Labour government. Under Conservative spending proposals, Wales is in a win-win situation.

Cuts in waste as proposed by the James Review will be ploughed into spending on key areas, such as health and education.

And in Wales, the NHS and education account for a very large proportion of funding. So, the focus in our spending plans on these areas mean that Wales will do very well. The block grant will remain, and on top of this Wales will continue to receive funding from the Barnett formula under the current system.

Wales will see real gains from savings in non-priority areas - even above those seen elsewhere.

And because of the savings we can make by cutting Labour waste, we can also stop Labour's third term tax increases.

We will reduce the burden of the nanny state on the way people choose to live. Within the first weeks of winning the election, a Conservative government would implement changes to reduce the number of MPs.

We will cut back MPs - because we believe in big people and small government. Fewer MPs, ministers, and special advisers will mean reduced cost, equal representation for constituencies, demonstrates our commitment to smaller government.

But this will change the relationship between Westminster and Cardiff. We will therefore hold a referendum, so that the people of Wales can determine the future for the Welsh Assembly and the number of MPs representing them.

We have no fear of the people. We are happy to offer them the choices ranging from tax raising powers, law making powers, the status quo, and abolition.

The choice on Wales' political future will be made by the people of Wales.

So, the Conservative party will allow a free vote so that if you wish to increase the Assembly's powers, then you can say so. If you wish to see tax-raising powers, then you can say so. And if you want to abolish the assembly, then you can say so - and campaign for it.

With further powers devolved to Cardiff, the number of MPs will be reduced in line with the rest of the UK.

Wales will have 26 MPs. If Wales chooses to abolish the Assembly, there will be 32 Welsh MPs.

Which will mean that Wales has more MPs per capita than other countries of the UK. But whatever the people of Wales decide, Wales cannot lose out.

This is because we trust the people. We are not afraid to take power away from government, where Labour so obsessively hoards it. We have confidence in what people decide for themselves.

We do not believe, as Labour do, that an oppressive nanny state knows better than the free will of the people.

We do not believe, as Labour do, that people must be told what to decide and denied responsibility for their own choices.

We believe in broad and exciting choices. We offer a way forward - a true way forward, not just another rehashing of the same old broken pledges and dogmatic policy.

This government wants us to trust them. To do as they say, because it must be right. We don't think that. Not just because this government is so blatantly not worth trusting;

So blatantly isn't right - but because we believe in trusting individual people. We have so much to battle against in Wales.

But with Conservative policy, Wales has the bright future it so deserves. We have so much to fight for. And now is the time for that fight.

Never was there a time when all your support, hard work and dedication were more needed and appreciated.

Labour have let us all down so badly, so many times, while all the other parties offer are narrow and erratic proposals.

Only Conservatives can make a real difference.

And we will make a difference. We will listen to what the people want - and that is what we will deliver.

We go into this election strengthened and revitalised, focussed and determined.

I know that the pride and passion is there within all of us as Conservatives, to fight for the very best.

Like the Welsh rugby team who have done us so proud in this six nations tournament, let us take up the challenge in Wales with every ounce of fight we have in us - we mean every word we say,

We are going to deliver. We are going to have a Welsh-born prime minister - We are going to win.

Diolch yn fawr."

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