Delivering a long-term economic plan

Addressing the annual Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Cardiff, Nick Ramsay AM, Shadow Minister for Finance, said:

 

It’s great to be back speaking to you all again and isn’t it good to see Natasha Asghar chairing this session on the global race and to hear from Selaine and Craig, all outstanding examples of the exciting, talented candidates our party is fielding at the forthcoming General Election.

 

The future of the party is in safe hands.

 

Conference, 40 years ago this month Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Conservative Party.

 

To say she faced a challenge would be an understatement.

 

In the 1970s the British economy was in ‘malaise’ with stagflation - unemployment and inflation at an all-time high.

 

The rubbish was uncollected, bodies unburied.

 

Slowly but surely the lights were going out across our country.

 

Do you remember our nickname?

 

Britain was ‘the sick man of Europe’.

 

The Labour Government even had to ask the IMF to bail them out.

 

But Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives sorted it.

 

Britain was ready to compete again in the global race.

 

Four decades on and the UK Coalition Government have faced another tough economic inheritance from the last Labour Government.

 

Under Labour spending was out of control.

 

A huge budget deficit of £160 billion a year.

 

There’s no money left Liam Byrne’s note read.

 

Labour didn’t fix the roof when was the sun was shining.

 

But guess what. We’ve sorted it again.

 

The deficit slashed by a third and falling.

 

Spending is back under control and unemployment is down.

 

The number of people out of work in the UK fell by 97,000 to 1.86 million in the three months to last December.

 

The unemployment rate now stands at 5.7% of the working population.

 

What’s more, wages are increasing.

 

Wage growth has outpaced inflation at the fastest rate in almost five years.

 

Of course none of this has been easy.

 

And of course there is more to be done.

 

But under David Cameron’s leadership and George Osborne’s long term economic plan we’ve made that all-important start.

 

And we’ve made a big start in Wales too. Electrification of the South Wales main line to Swansea will speed up journey times from Wales to London and Heathrow.

 

Electrification of the valleys lines will pave the way for a South Wales Metro, getting commuters around the Cardiff City region faster and in greater comfort, easing congestion and strengthening our economy.

 

And in North Wales a new nuclear power station at Wylfa will safeguard jobs and future energy supply.

 

Of course here in devolved Wales Labour never left Government.

 

And doesn’t it show.

 

Critically poor levels of literacy and numeracy, our young people short-changed from the start as they enter the workplace.

 

A large number of businesses not even aware of the existence of Finance Wales, the supposedly business supporting wing of Welsh Government. 

 

And the Welsh Labour Government refusing our calls to take small businesses out of business rate relief.

 

Well, maybe not surprising given this is the government which refused to pass on the council tax freeze to hardworking people in Wales.

 

When will they learn, it’s not their money, it’s the public’s money?

 

We hear day in day out how it’s all our fault, even though we’ve never been in power in the Assembly.

 

Welsh Labour never seem to have enough money not that that stopped them finding 50 million quid down the back of the Ministerial sofa to purchase an airport.

 

Clearly not the best thought out decision, even the First Minister still flies from Heathrow!

 

How does any of this help Wales compete in the global race?

 

It doesn’t.

 

This is no legacy for the future of Wales.

 

But it is a clear message to the rest of the United Kingdom about what might have been and what still might be if we don’t stop it.

 

So remember, under the UK Coalition Government - unemployment down, I

inflation down, the deficit down.

 

Business start-ups up, business confidence up, consumer confidence up.

 

The sort of legacy Ed Miliband and his Labour Party - well some of them anyway - would give their eye teeth to get their hands on.

 

Of course they would. So they can start all over again.

 

Groundhog day!

 

But we’re not going to let that happen are we?

 

Conference in 69 days time the British people will go to the polls and decide who they trust to run the economy.

 

We have a good news story to tell and great candidates to tell it.

 

Our message is simple.

 

Now is not the time to go back to high borrowing.

 

Now is not the time to go back to high spending.

 

Now is not the time to go back to high taxes.

 

This is the time to get on with the job.

 

This is the time to deliver the long-term economic plan.