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Paul Davies' Speech to Welsh Conservative Conference

Below is the full text of Paul Davies' speech to the recent Welsh Conservative conference.

Bore da a croeso i’n cynhadledd.

Mae’n braf fod nôl yn Llangollen unwaith eto a dwi’n edrych ymlaen I’r ddau ddiwrnod nesa oherwydd I ni yn mynd I gael cynhadledd arbennig o dda.

Good morning. I’m delighted that we’re back again in Llangollen – in the Conservative-held constituency of Clwyd South with its excellent Member of Parliament Simon Baynes.

In fact, we return to Llangollen this year with seven extra Members of Parliament.

All across Wales, from Crickhowell to Colwyn Bay, Holyhead to Haverfordwest and Monmouth to Mold – Welsh Conservative MPs are standing up for their constituents and for Wales in Westminster.

Over the last 20 years, Welsh Conservatives have been on a journey.

Since 1997, we have been increasing our representation in Westminster, in the Assembly and in councils across Wales.

We now have more Welsh Conservative MPs than at any time since 1983 with our biggest share of the popular vote since 1945 - we are within a hair’s breadth of putting an end to Labour’s grip on power.

Next year we can end this one party state.

The Labour Party’s red wall in north Wales has come tumbling down, no wonder they’ve retreated to their bunkers in the south.

It was an incredible result – just think about it - Labour’s second most northerly seat in Wales is now Merthyr Tydfil - barely 20 miles north of Cardiff.

And it is this Labour Party that has only governed in the interests of those 20 miles - no wonder every single Labour First Minister has lived just off the M4 corridor.

Conference, we won seats in every corner of the country – in North, East, South and West.

You can now travel from the North Wales coast to the South Wales coast without leaving a single Conservative constituency!

Labour have taken the people of Wales for granted for decades.

We are the party of Wales – no matter where you live your priorities are our priorities.

Together, as a Welsh Conservative Team, with Boris Johnson as our Prime Minister, Simon Hart and David Davies in the Wales Office, my colleagues in Cardiff Bay and Conservative councillors, we are showing the people of Wales what Conservatives can do for them.

With a new Conservative Government we’re hitting the ground running – we even got Brexit done – and we’re ready to deliver for the people of Wales.

There are so many results from December’s general election that we can all be proud of.

But I am especially proud that we saw the election of our first ever female Conservative MPs.

Sarah Atherton

Virginia Crosbie

And Fay Jones are first class Members of Parliament and have bright parliamentary careers ahead of them.

And you, our members and supporters, can be so proud of what you have achieved.

Thank you. Thank you Wales. Thank you Boris.

Today, I want to set out the next steps in our mission to unleash Wales’ potential.

A mission which we must complete - for the sake of our nation.

Just like Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Drakeford has abandoned Labour’s traditional voters.

They now stand for a metropolitan elite.

They no longer support hard working people who want to get on in life.

The Labour gang - the Drakeford gang - are out of touch with hard working people.

As Conservatives, we have always been a party of aspiration.

A party of people who want to get on in life and reach your full potential.

We believe there should be no limit to how far your talents and hard work will take you.

We Welsh Conservatives are on your side.

A Welsh Conservative Government will help secure a better future for you and your family.

If you want to get training to secure a skilled job and a regular pay cheque, we will help you.

If you want your own home, we will help you.

If you want to keep more of your hard-earned cash so you can support your family, we will help you.

And for those juggling work with high childcare costs, we will help you too.

If you want a better education for your children, we will work with teachers to drive up standards.

When you or a loved one need our precious NHS, we will ensure it’s there for you, free at the point of use.

And for our older people we will give you dignity and security by investing in social care.

Ma’r blaid Lafur wedi troi ei chefn ar bobol sy’n gweithio’n galed ac maent wedi trapio cymunedau mewn tlodi yn hytrach na rhoi llaw lan iddynt.

Y Ceidwadwyr Cymreig yw'r Blaid sy’n cynnig gobaith a'r Blaid sy'n cynrychioli pobol sy’n gweithio.

Os ydych chi am ddod mlaen mewn bywyd, i ni ar eich ochr chi.

Os ydych chi eisiau gwell gwasanaethau cyhoeddus, i fod yn berchen ar eich cartref eich hun, i gael swydd neu i gadw mwy o'ch arian eich hun, byddwn ni'n cyflawni ar eich rhan.

Conference, now let’s turn our attention to our mission to transform the health service.

The Labour Party has been running the NHS in Wales for the past 20 years…

… but they’re running it into the ground.

Here in Wales we have a record-breaking health service…

…but it is breaking records for all the wrong reasons.

Take the NHS here in North Wales for example.

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has broken the record for the longest time an NHS organisation has been in special measures.

And just down the road, Wrexham Maelor Hospital has had the accolade of having broken the record for the worst A&E performance in the whole of Great Britain.

But these are not the only records to have fallen under the Labour Party in Wales.

The Welsh NHS, is the only health service in the UK to have ever suffered a cut in its finances.

So let’s remind the people of Wales, that no Conservative Prime Minister has ever cut the NHS budget…

…shame on the Labour Party for cutting theirs!

So part of our mission here in Wales is to transform our health care system to make it the best in the World.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will not be allowed to languish in special measures under my leadership.

We will secure the improvements needed to turn your health board around.

And I make this pledge to the people of Wales…

… as your First Minister, I will ensure that the Welsh NHS budget increases in each and every year of a Welsh Conservative Government.

Our hardworking NHS staff face challenges every day, no more than now with the current Coronavirus outbreak.

However, we all have a part to play to tackle this outbreak by taking personal responsibility and following health guidance and advice.

Ladies and Gentlemen I’m sure you’d like to show your appreciation for everyone working on the front lines of our health service to protect us all.

Now, according to respected international rankings, Wales has the worst education system in the United Kingdom.

It is the only UK nation in the bottom half of the global education league table.

And last year’s GCSE results were the worst in more than a decade.

Labour are failing our future generations, following a new approach to the curriculum which has been piloted in Scotland with poor results.

There can be no excuses for these failings.

For every £1 spent on a pupil in England, the Welsh Labour Government receives £1.20 to spend here.

Yet according to one of Wales’ largest teaching Unions, the NASUWT, there is a funding gap of almost £650 per pupil, per year between Wales and England.

It is scandalous!

Conference, I just don’t get it.

How on earth can you be in government for 20 years and still not know how to run anything properly?

As First Minister I will put a line in the sand.

We have the powers, we have the funding, it’s time to stop marking the pitch and actually start playing the game.

We are a party that represents everybody in Wales, no matter what their background, or where they live.

As someone who was born and raised in West Wales I want to see every corner of our country realise it’s full potential.

As your First Minister, I will lead a Wales of opportunity.

A Wales that is full of hope.

And full of aspiration.

I believe in freedom of the individual, personal responsibility and choice, and that everyone has the right to succeed in life.

And that’s because, at the heart of everything we Welsh Conservatives do, we believe that the people of Wales know what is best for them and their families…

…not politicians in the Cardiff Bay bubble!

This year was the 20th anniversary of the advent of devolution.

For many people this has been a cause for celebration.

But for others it’s a reminder of 20 years of failure.

They are ordinary people outside of the Cardiff Bay bubble whose lives have not been improved by devolution.

But it isn’t devolution that has failed Wales – it’s two decades of Labour that have failed the people of Wales.

As a party we will not be abolishing the Assembly, but we do need to listen more to the concerns of those who want to.

Just like the establishment in Brussels, people feel remote, ignored, and disenfranchised from the elites in Cardiff Bay.

That is not what people voted for all those years ago.

After decades of arrogant and wasteful rule in Wales, Labour still don’t know how to run anything - they couldn’t even run a bath.

Labour are tired and out of ideas.

That feeling is not felt more strongly than here in North Wales.

So what’s their big plan to re-engage with the people of North Wales.

Their plan is to bring the Assembly to north Wales to meet for a week at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds of your money.

Well I can tell you as your First Minister, I know what I’ll be bringing to North Wales.

I’ll be bringing investment and infrastructure.

Not a travelling circus.

Conference, we have a bloated bureaucracy here in Wales that is absolutely out of touch with the people.

Over the past decade, while all of us were cutting our cloth, bureaucrats in Cardiff Bay received a 20% uplift in their budgets.

And conference, let me be clear. A Welsh Conservative Government will cut the cost of politics

We will seek to freeze the Assembly Commission’s budget for the full five year term.

We will work harder with the money available.

And another thing, there will be no increase in the number of politicians in Wales under my leadership.

As First Minister I will lead by example.

I will reshape the government too. I will reduce the size of the Welsh Government from 14 ministers to a magnificent 7. A 50% saving on day one.

And I will implement an immediate freeze on hiring more and more civil servants.

Government needs to be smaller in every way except for more doctors, nurses, teachers and the frontline staff that deliver the public services we all rely on.

A Welsh Conservative Government will be the leanest, the most efficient, the most agile and most transparent government that Wales has ever seen - maybe the smallest and most agile anywhere in the UK - don’t tell Boris I said that.

My magnificent seven will not be afraid to roll up their sleeves, and get stuck in and tackle the waste in our public services.

They will not shy away from fixing what’s broken and they will deliver for you.

Conference, in last year’s General Election Voters were clear - they want Wales’ potential to be unleashed

They know that our Prime Minister Boris Johnson will get things done.

And that is what I will do as your First Minister.

Conference, I’m going to be a bank manager for a moment.

It’s what I used to do before I entered the Assembly so please indulge me.

Recent figures on public spending per head produced by the House of Commons Library are staggering.

They show the figures for what is spent on public services in every part of the UK.

As you would expect, with a Conservative government in Westminster the books balance in England.

In Northern Ireland there is a net fiscal deficit per person of £623 per head. In SNP run Scotland it’s a deficit of £2,482 per head.

So let me play the part of the late and great Sir Bruce Forsyth and I ask you, Wales’ fiscal deficit per head is it higher or lower than every other part of the UK?

C’mon is it higher or lower?

That’s right. It is higher. £4,307 per head. Almost double Scotland!

So with all this extra investment, how is government performing so poorly in Wales?

Conference, it isn’t that Wales does not have the money.

It’s that Labour just doesn’t know how to spend it properly or responsibly.

That’s why we will carry out a root and branch review, across government to address waste and inefficiency.

I make this pledge today, that within 100 days of my appointment as your First Minister, I will establish a task force so that you get value for money for every penny spent.

In the UK there is an Office of Budget Responsibility - in Wales I will create an Office of Administrative Responsibility - it will have a wide remit to look at every way that government works and ensure that taxpayer’s money is spent well.

When I became your leader, I pledged to be a listener. I hope I have done so. I have heard what people have been telling me. It’s not just the Labour Government’s priorities that are wrong, the whole culture is wrong.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, there is something rotten in the State of Drakeford.

So an Office of Administrative Responsibility will be there to give advice. And I shall listen. And I shall act.

We have had devolution, now we need a revolution - a revolution from the inside of government.

We will cut the number of public appointees and end the Labour party’s cronyism in the public appointment system.

We will stop public money being used without proper tenders.

We will end the Assembly gravy train.

We will implement a total Comprehensive Spending Review and eliminate waste.

And we will invest in a different way.

As your First Minister, I will work with Boris Johnson our Prime Minister.

There will be two governments aligned, working together on behalf of all the people of Wales - we will deliver where Labour have failed.

We will deliver a fairer local government funding settlement, that serves north, mid and west Wales as well as cities in the south.

We will deliver the resources so that our children can realise their potential.

And we will deliver infrastructure that is fit for the 21st century.

By investing in our roads, rail and broadband networks. And yes conference that includes upgrading the A55 and delivering an M4 relief road.

And we will deliver for the whole of Wales.

We all know it’s true. North Wales is getting a rough deal from the Labour Government.

Let’s look at the recent storms for example. There were two storms Ciara and Dennis. But it was only after Dennis hit the south, that Labour was forced into action.

As my friend and colleague Janet Finch-Saunders made clear, Labour only offered a compensation scheme after the southern flooding - once again, Labour only cared about the valleys.

Conference, whilst mentioning these storms, I want to put on record my thanks to all the emergency services, volunteers and everyone involved in the aftermath of the devastating floods across the country - thank you for your work.

My heart goes out to all those affected.

And think how different it could have been - just last week, we found out that the Labour Government returned £200 million to the Treasury.

Whatever the reason, just imagine what we could have done with that £200 million to protect Welsh homes and welsh businesses from the effects of these horrific floods.

People in Llanfair Talhaiarn wouldn’t be mopping up for the third time in 8 years.

People wouldn’t be wading through sewage in Pontypridd.

And places like Fairbourne would not be abandoned to the sea.

That’s why we will double the investment for flood defences because climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world.

Back in 1988 Margaret Thatcher said this: It’s we conservatives who are not merely friends of the Earth - we are its guardians and trustees for generations to come. The core of Tory philosophy and for the case for protecting the environment are the same. No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease. This Government intends to meet the terms of that lease in full.

And, as always, Maggie was right.

And she was right about something else too - there is no such thing as government money – it’s your money.

That’s why government has such a hefty responsibility to spend every penny wisely.

And why we get so angry that in Wales so much is wasted on vanity projects, dithering and poor decisions.

And what a list of failures by 20 years of successive Labour Governments.

More than £100 million propping up Cardiff Airport

£100 million over budget on the delayed Heads of the Valleys Road

£144 million wasted and nothing to show on the M4 Relief Road

£10 million gone on the Circuit of Wales

£30 million wasted on Pinewood studios

And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

Time and time again…Labour dither.

Labour waste.

And Labour fail.

And worse than this they expect you to pay for their failures with increased taxes.

Under this First Minister we’ve seen proposals for a social care tax, a tourism tax and a vacant land tax.

As your First Minister I’ll do everything I can to get your taxes down.

And let me make one thing absolutely clear – there will be no new taxes under my Welsh Government.

And we’ll help businesses too.

Under Labour in Wales we have the least competitive business regime in Britain, we will turn this around so that our town centres can thrive again.

Conference we will always be a low tax party and we will always reward hard work because we believe in personal responsibility and freedom and this applies to the public services we use.

Our job is not just to criticise but it’s to provide a credible alternative to this failing Labour Government.

So that’s why we have a plan for health that will bring improvements and accountability to our Welsh NHS.

That’s why we have a plan for housing that will end the housing crisis in Wales and end rough sleeping.

And that’s why we have plans to boost infrastructure across Wales which will bring jobs to every part of Wales.

We are the Party of the big ideas that will take on the challenges that face Wales, and put an end to 20 years of tired and failing Labour rule.

And we are the Party of a strong and united kingdom where the sum is greater than the value of its constituent parts – As Boris says the awesome foursome is better off together.

The rest of the UK is Wales’ biggest export market and as a nation we are safer, more secure and more prosperous as part of the most successful and enduring union in the world.

Outside the European Union, the UK is now free to strike trade deals all over the world, ensuring access for Welsh businesses to lucrative foreign markets.

We have a strong UK Government as a major player on the world stage, with a strong voice for Wales around the Cabinet table.

Now is the time to strengthen those bonds of Union to ensure every part of the UK can benefit as we begin to unleash the UK’s potential - and level up across the whole of the country.

Wales is a small nation, with a big heart that has so much to offer, but it has been held back by a generation of the same old tired socialist ideology, which believes in the nanny state and that everything should be controlled from the centre.

An ideology which trusts politicians not you the people.

We believe in you.

I have this message to you if you voted Conservative for the first time at last year's general election.

The Labour party has let you down.

Enough is enough. It’s time for a new Welsh Government.

Mark Drakeford said he would only be First Minister for a short time - I’m here to make sure it’s even shorter. Unlike Mark, I am here for the long haul. I’m telling you Mark your time is up.

We are coming for you.

We need bold decisive leadership in both London and Cardiff Bay for Wales to move forward.

With me as your First Minister and Boris as your Prime Minister we will deliver for Wales

And you will have a government that rewards your hard work, delivers a bold agenda, leaves no one and no community behind.

You backed Boris last year, now back me. Together we can unleash Wales’ potential.

Diolch yn fawr.

For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.

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