Speech to Conference 2011, by Mark Isherwood AM

We believe in personal responsibility - but we also have a responsibility to those around us.

 

Da ni’n credu mewn / cyfrifoldeb personol // ond mae

 

gennym gyfrifoldeb hefyd/ I’r rhai sydd o’n cwmpas

 

Our Big Welsh Society holds many opportunities for communities to make local decisions – but this Socialist Labour Plaid Cymru Welsh Government has put too many barriers in the way.

 

Socialism began on a high ideal of Social Justice – But it submerges the individual and thus the voice of common morality, of common Social Justice.

 

Conservatism, by contrast, is an association of free-minded free-spirited souls, acting together not from coercion  or obedience, but from a common concern and interest.

 

The minds of the Socialists in Cardiff Bay -  trapped by a discredited 19th Century ideology - fail to recognise that it is the individual in society who has morality not the State.

 

Seeing a little boy with a box, Carwyn Jones asked what was in it?

 

‘Kittens’, replies the child.

 

'What kind of kittens?’ asks Carwyn.

 

  'Socialists', the child says.

 

A couple of days later Carwyn is campaigning with Ed Miliband when he spies the same boy with his box.

 

Carwyn says, ‘ tell my friend Ed what kind of kittens they are.'

 

The boy replies, 'They're Tories.'

 

'What?' Carwyn says, 'the other day and you said they were Socialists. What's changed? '

 

Well, 'the lad says, 'Their eyes are open now.'

 

At Labour’s Welsh Conference a fortnight ago Ed Miliband was right to call for a vote against dogma.

 

Dogma has driven Labour led Welsh Government since devolution - muppets led by commissars – and look where it has got us!

 

Wales has the highest child poverty in the UK, 1in 3, with rates rising for years before recession.

 

Only last week, a Save the Children report found that Wales has the highest proportion of severe child poverty in the UK -90,000 children.

 

Labour's pledge to halve child poverty in Wales by 2010 is now in tatters – they have concentrated on the top 2-3% of the poorest but neglected the most vulnerable, locking them into dependency.

 

I met Save the Children recently.

 

They told me that we won’t tackle Severe Poverty unless more focused and targeted measures are put in place, removing barriers to employment.

 

The Communities First programme is the Welsh Government’s multi-million pound flagship programme in disadvantaged communities.

 

However, the Wales Audit Office found that the programme was blighted from the start by an absence of basic planning—in other words, by ministerial dereliction of duty.

 

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that Communities First had led to marginal improvements only and that more children in poverty live outside Communities First areas than inside them.

 

And the Wales Council for Voluntary Action found that the programme’s missing link was the inability of communities to establish their own independent institutions, to deliver real outcomes.

 

We must ask why this Socialist Welsh Government imagines that it must do the same thing with less money, when the same thing is not working.

 

Social Enterprise has greater reach, more flexibility and is generally better at more intensive, personalised support.

 

12 years of socialist Welsh Government has subsidised rather than tackled the deep-rooted causes of the problems in Wales today, leaving Wales at the bottom of every social and economic league table that matters.

 

Welsh Conservatives will develop a new model with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Community Enterprises, financed by a Big Society Fund.

 

Both Homes for All Cymru and the Home Builders Federation state there is a crisis in Wales and that the current housing system has been failing for a long time – with dire consequences for the health and well-being of people and the stability of communities.

 

In order to tackle the legacy of the lost years of dependency on socialist elites in Wales, our final budget would give £10 million more for social justice, and £17 million more for social housing over three years, than that of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

 

We will also heed the call of the housing sector and establish a housing recovery group.

 

Let this be the end of big Government and the start of laying the foundations of the big Welsh society.

 

We must allow community enterprise to ask the public sector how they can help it to save money, delivering more for less.

 

After all, true leadership empowers other people.