There is a better alternative for a more prosperous future for Wales

Daffodils in the sunshine, an emblem of St David's Day.

On St David’s day, Andrew RT Davies celebrates Wales’ achievements and appraises the Welsh Government’s track record on the challenges facing the nation

As we celebrate St David’s Day, it’s a time to reflect on what it means to be Welsh and to celebrate the success, resilience and innovative nature of the people of Wales. 

It has been heartbreaking, over the last year, to see towns and cities being ripped apart by Putin’s barbaric war in Ukraine.

We have shown the true Welsh spirit by standing in solidarity with Ukraine, providing vital aid and material support, the UK being the second largest provider of assistance behind only the US.

Wales has so much to offer, with our rich culture, tourist attractions, scenic, mountainous walks and views, but nothing more so than the people of Wales.

Despite global cost of living pressures, Wales has punched above its weight in supporting Ukrainians who have fled the destruction in their own country, providing safe refuge to so many.

I am proud to say that we have opened up our country to our Ukrainian friends.

I have seen in the cities, towns and villages a real sense of Welsh pride in our opposition to the assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and our support for the innocent people caught in Putin’s aggression.

Wales has so much to offer, with our rich culture, tourist attractions, scenic, mountainous walks and views, but nothing more so than the people of Wales.

Welsh people are some of the most innovative, hardworking and aspirational in the world.

The talent that comes out of Wales is truly immense. Just last week, I visited Pembrokeshire College and heard about the many success stories of young people who have come out of the college, and who have gone on to work in Formula One and compete in UK wide competitions – developing their exceptional vocational skills and putting Welsh skills on the map.

Others have taken their skills outside of Wales to innovate, and have since returned to further develop the green revolution that will power Wales in the future and evolve our green economy into the 21st century. 

We desperately need a Government in Wales that backs its people. Not Labour Ministers who say they don’t know what they’re doing on the economy or a minister responsible for Transport who cancels road building – effectively closing the door to further economic opportunities here in Wales.

Keir Starmer said that if you want to see what Labour in power looks like, to look no further than Wales. 

Labour have been at the helm now for a quarter of a century, with key decision-making powers over the bread and butter issues of health, education, housing and the economy.

Their tone-deaf plans to create extra politicians in Cardiff Bay will cost you, the taxpayer, £100 million.

Labour-run Wales is certainly no blueprint for success.

Under Labour, we have the longest NHS waiting lists in the UK with a quarter of the population on a waiting list and nearly 50,000 people waiting over two years, while waits this long have been practically eliminated elsewhere in the UK.

Our ambulance response times are the slowest on record and we have the worst A&E waits in Britain.

Labour has run our education standards down, and we now languish at the bottom of Britain’s GCSE and PISA rankings, suffering with fewer teachers and larger class sizes due to Labour’s failure to attract and retain teaching talent.

Over the last 10 years we have had 7,000 more pupils in our classrooms, but 4,000 teachers leaving them. A 10% drop in the workforce presents a huge challenge for schools already feeling the pressure from Labour’s rushed implementation of the new curriculum.

The Labour Government is quite literally slowing Wales down, having cancelled all major road building and introducing blanket 20mph zones, costing £33 million and hitting the economy to the tune of £4.5 billion, according to the Welsh Government’s own figures.

I want Wales to be at the forefront, firing on all cylinders and producing the jobs of the future.

On housing, another key area under Labour’s control, they are failing to build half the homes that Wales needs. Wales needs 12,000 homes a year, but Labour are not even building 6,000 a year at present.

With almost 90,000 households on a social housing waiting list, hard-working families are paying the price for Labour’s inaction on the housing crisis.

Welsh workers’ pay packets have dropped relative to Scottish workers by £3,000 since the dawn of devolution when they were equal, and now remain the lowest in Britain.

Labour’s record speaks for itself and it’s clear that the politicians in red, down in Cardiff Bay, need to focus on fixing the mess they have made of our NHS, education, housing, transport system and pay packets here in Wales.

Whilst Labour has some very real problems to resolve for the people of Wales, I remain positive that there is a better alternative, and a more prosperous future for our great nation. 

I want Wales to be at the forefront, firing on all cylinders and producing the jobs of the future.

Wales can do better and must do better. We owe it to all our people across our great country to ensure that you, the people of Wales, are able to succeed in life.

All articles published on the welsh agenda are subject to IWA’s disclaimer.

Andrew RT Davies is the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

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