We’ll make sure our recovery is strong, stable and fair says Kirsty Williams
The political landscape has changed beyond recognition since the last election. The arrival of the Liberal Democrats into Government ensured that politics in Britain would never be the same again. We tore up the rulebook, no longer allowing people’s decisions to be narrowed to only the old parties, red or blue, left or right.
General Election Series
Ahead of the general election each of the six main parties were invited to contribute to Click on Wales about why they should have your vote on the 7th May. This series will run an article from one party each day up until the general election. Read all of the articles here.
There is one thing certain in this election: no party will win outright. At this time of writing, there have been 176 polls published this year: 174 of them predicted a hung parliament. This will be the first election where people decide who, alongside Labour and the Tories, will be in Government.
We could end up with a Government that will lurch away to the extremes of left or right. Ed Miliband could be held hostage by a small band of left wing separatists. On the other hand, David Cameron could be held to ransom by hard right ideologues that will threaten our public services. The SNP and UKIP would wreak havoc on both our economy and our public services. We can’t allow Britain to sleepwalk into a dangerous future.
The third option, the balanced option, is for people to vote for the Liberal Democrats. We have shown we can anchor a Government in the centre ground, and we will do so again. We will add a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one.
I am proud that in Government, the Liberal Democrats brought stability to the economy and ensured that the difficult decisions needed to turn it round have been made fairly.
There is more to be done. But, with the Liberal Democrats, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will finish the job of deficit reduction, in full and on time – something Labour won’t do. But we will do this in a balanced and sensible way, making sure the wealthiest pay their fair share, and allowing for investment in public services once the books are balanced – something the Tories won’t do.
There has been much talk in Wales about why issues such as the NHS and education are being campaigned on when they are devolved matters. The fact is that these decisions matter for Wales.
Our plan to balance the books by 2017/18 means we can commit to giving the NHS the money it needs to stay strong. The additional £8bn a year we have committed to the NHS in England – which Labour have not matched, and the Tories have not funded – means an extra £460m a year for Wales by 2020. The Welsh Liberal Democrats would invest some of this money into my ‘More Nurses’ bill to ensure we have the safe number of nurses on hospital wards. We would invest in mental health services too, ensuring equal status for people with mental health problems – an issue that has been ignored for far too long.
In England we have said we will increase education spending in real terms over the next parliament, which would mean up to £150 million in additional funding for Wales. We would use this money to increase funding for our Welsh Pupil Premium.
There is no better way of helping people fulfill their potential than investing in education – starting with children’s vital early years and through their school life. That’s why we placed the Pupil Premium – targeted funding to help disadvantaged pupils close the gap to their peers – on the front page of our manifesto at the last general election. It is on our front page once again. We will double the money we have already secured to ensure every child has a fair start in life.
All parties say they want to bring decision making closer to the people, very few mean it. It is better to judge parties on their actions, rather than their words. The Liberal Democrats in Government ensured devolution to Wales moved faster than any time previously over the last decade. Tax powers, law-making powers, borrowing powers – the Liberal Democrats ensured we have a more accountable Welsh Government. In the next parliament, we will be the guarantors of both fair funding and further powers. We have a record of delivery and a promise of more. Only the Liberal Democrats will deliver a stronger, fairly funded, Wales.
The choice for Wales in this election is clear. Labour will borrow too much, risking the economy and racking up debt for our children and grandchildren to pay back. The Tories will cut too much, recklessly threatening public services and sacrificing the least well off. Plaid and the Greens will only have a handful of MPs; they remain a wasted vote – a vote for opposition, rather than Government. They will leave Wales isolated and underfunded.
Only the Liberal Democrats will keep Britain on track and make sure our recovery is strong, stable and fair. We will fight every day to build a stronger economy and a fairer society – with opportunity for everyone in Wales.