Speech to Conference 2011, by Darren Millar AM

It is a great pleasure to speak in this afternoon’s session and what an honour it is to follow our brilliant Chancellor, George Osborne.


George you’ve been a wonderful warm up act!


This afternoon’s session is titled economic growth. But let’s be clear about this...


...thanks to Labour and Plaid, the only growth we have seen in Wales over the past few years has been my expanding waistline!


Come to think of it - some of your's have expanded too!


But hey, don't worry - the Assembly elections will help us walk it all off!


Under the coalition of Socialists and Separatists in Cardiff Bay, our country is officially the poorest part of the UK and, as economic indicators published only last week showed that on the most recent data, West Wales and the Valleys has now even fallen behind parts of Bulgaria and Greece.


Labour and Plaid have taken our economy backwards, not forwards, and that’s a national disgrace.


Statistics like these should act as a wake up call for the Minister responsible for our economic performance - Plaid's Ieuan Wyn Jones the Deputy First Minister.


But Windy Wyn has been more interested in providing subsidies for a North-South Air link from his constituency to Cardiff than supporting Welsh firms struggling to cope with the downturn.


Ieuan Air is now in receipt of more than £3,000 in subsidies per day from the taxpayer.


Compare this to the financial support offered to Welsh firms under Labour-Plaid's Economic Renewal Programme in the first 6 months since it was announced with great fanfare last year.


Zilch. Nadda. Nothing - or in Eric Pickle's speak - Nowt!


Businesses on their knees due to Labour's recession and thousands losing their jobs, but not a penny to support Welsh firms.


It's no wonder that people say the only jobs Labour and Plaid seem to care about is jobs for the boys!


I could go on to talk about the costs of road projects trebling due to mismanagement, the North South train service that doesn’t stop at North Wales’ two biggest population centres, or many parts of Wales without access to broadband or mobile telephone signals - but time prevents me from doing so.


The truth is that Ieuan Wyn Jones simply isn't up to the job.


Don't just take my word for it.


It's not often I agree with Labour AMs, but when one of them recently said that Windy Wyn had “lost the confidence and response of the business community” and confirmed that there is “serious disquiet” over the running of his department - I couldn't but agree.


And with Wales languishing at the bottom of the UK prosperity league table, it’s no wonder Ieuan Wyn Jones has also been described as the “One Wales weak link”.


But let's not forget the other half of this comedy duo, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones – or Carwhinge Jones as he is known in the Bay!


Carwyn whinges about the Assembly funding settlement, yet fails to remember it was Gordon Brown’s mismanagement of public finances that led to the spending squeeze.


He whinges about the Barnett formula, yet fails to remember that Labour resisted reform for 13 years.


And he whinges about electrification of our railways, yet fails to remember that under the former Labour Government not a single centimetre of track in Wales was electrified.


Together Ieuan and Carwyn are the Laurel and Hardy of Welsh politics.


Their constant refrain is ‘this is another fine mess you’ve got me into’ as they blame the Conservative-led UK Government for everything that goes wrong in Wales and claim credit for all that goes right.


But let’s be clear on this:

·         It’s Labour and Plaid’s fault that Welsh patients are waiting longer for NHS treatment.

  • It’s their fault that key school standards in reading, maths and science are falling behind the rest of the world.
  • And it’s their fault that Wales is the poorest part of the UK.


Labour say they will ‘focus on delivery’ in a Labour Assembly Government fourth term.


I say, what have you been doing for the last 12 years?


You don’t deserve another day in Government and you should apologise to the people of Wales for 12 years of disappointment and missed opportunities.


It’s time for a fresh and coherent approach to economic policy in Wales - and that's just what we Welsh Conservatives have to offer.


We would work with, not against, the UK Government to get our economy back on track.


That’s why a Conservative Assembly Government would abolish business rates for tens of thousands of small businesses, the backbone of the Welsh economy, giving them the confidence to expand and create new jobs.


That’s why we would develop a manufacturing strategy - focused on the new and green technologies of the future – to stem the industrial decline.


That's why we would focus investment on transport links which deliver economic and environmental benefits…


…and improve our communications infrastructure, to ensure that not a single business is beyond the reach of a broadband connection or a mobile signal.


It's also why we will also be looking carefully at the recommendations of the Welsh Conservatives’ Economic Commission, which has called for Wales to have a lower corporation tax regime than the rest of the UK to make us more competitive.


This May the people of Wales will face a clear choice – more of the same from Labour and Plaid, or change with the Welsh Conservatives.


It’s a message we need to share on every door-step, include in every leaflet, and convey in every telephone call.


It will be hard work – but it will pay off in the end.


Our country needs us and we must not let them down.


So let’s get out there and win for Wales!