WATCH: Jane Dodds’ speech to Scottish and Welsh Conference

Jane Dodds addressed Scottish and Welsh conference yesterday. She said that the Lib Dems were opposed to Labour’s failure to tackle poverty and the Conservatives’ Universal Credit costs.

She praised Kirsty Williams, highlighting international recognition of her work as Education Secretary.

She accused the Conservative Government of suffocating the Welsh economy which is lagging behind with lower productivity, lower incomes and greater poverty. She blames Boris Johnson directly for the lorry driver shortage and says that those who are poorest will suffer most from his Brexit.

And she has some gorgeous flowers in the background. Enjoy! The full text is below:

Wales needs us to fight for every person.

Every child that under Labour still lives in poverty.

Every family that’s being hurt by the Conservatives’ callous cuts to Universal Credit.

Every farmer being undermined by the Conservatives’ botched trade deals.

Every business hit by Labour’s COVID Passports.

Every person suffocating by Labour’s failure to tackle air pollution.

Every person silenced the Conservatives’ assault on democracy.

We have a different vision for every individual and community in Wales.

A Wales where no matter who you are, where you live, where you’re from, who you love – you have a real stake in our society.

A Wales that creates opportunity, supports talent and aspiration, and creates a fairer, greener economy.

A Wales that offers a new promise for the next generation.

And we’ve already started on that journey, haven’t we?

The critical work of giving every child the best start in life with an excellent education.

Under Welsh Liberal Democrat leadership, Wales was the only nation of the UK that improved in reading, maths and science in international tables

– for the first time ever.

A recent study by international experts praised the success of Kirsty’s education reforms.

They welcomed our ‘strong leadership’ and ‘clear vision’.

That’s the difference that Liberal Democrats can make.

And we should be proud

Because we know, don’t we, as liberals, that education is a vital building block for children and young people.

It brings with it opportunities, confidence, and freedom.

But in too many other instances, those in power seem determined to chip away at their futures,

leaving the next generation worse off.

Like the Conservatives here in Powys, closing small rural schools.

Take Dolau –

Conservative plans to close Llanfihangel Rhydeithon School will leave a huge hole in that community.

Or Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd closing Ysgol Abersoch.

It’s a sad day when those in county halls cannot recognise how important schools are in building and bringing communities together.

You only have to look at how the Conservatives have handled our withdrawal from the EU.

Withdrawing from Erasmus.

Withdrawing our ability to live, work, and study abroad.

Risking the future of businesses and jobs.

It’s no wonder that young adults in the UK are worried about Brexit and their futures.

A global pandemic and our departure from the EU leaves young people

Less free

With fewer opportunities

With an uncertain future

It leaves our small businesses wading through uncertainty at a time when the future already looks difficult.

And let’s be clear here – it is by Boris Johnson’s hand – by his design

that 200 jobs at Aston Martin’s car plant in the Vale of Glamorgan are at risk.

That councils are struggling to find school bus drivers.

That a hauliers company in Carmarthenshire lost 50 drivers because the Conservative’s immigration rules meant that their current drivers weren’t

“skilled enough”.

The sounds of clapping in the pandemic have been drowned out by Johnson’s and Patel’s open hostility to skilled workers from the EU.

And it’s the 180,000 children living in poverty in Wales who stand to be worst hit by fall out of Brexit.

Those same children and families who will bear the brunt of the Conservatives’ cruel cuts to Universal Credit,

and their manifesto breaking increases to National Insurance.

Because for your average family the triple whammy of Brexit, COVID, and National Insurance increases means that

food prices will go up

transport costs will go up

and as we head into winter, energy prices will sky rocket too.And for our small businesses the Conservatives’ decision to hike National Insurance is:

‘anti-jobs,

anti-small business,

and anti-start up.

And those aren’t my words – they are the words of business owners fearing for their futures.

The Conservatives are suffocating our economy.

An economy that for more than twenty two years hasn’t been given the tools it needs to succeed.

Because it would be all too convenient, wouldn’t it, to just blame Brexit and COVID – but it goes deeper

Much much deeper.

Our economy lags behind because of a lack of investment in our people.

22 years on and what was meant to be a radical reset for Wales has seen us lag behind.

Lower incomes

Lower productivity

Higher poverty.

And that was before Brexit and COVID.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In May’s election we put forward an ambitious package of ideas that would create opportunities for young people,

help businesses,

and take real action to safeguard the future of our planet.

Because we need some serious ideas – and we need them now.

Ideas like a Green Jobs Initiative, offering wage subsidies for Welsh companies to hire and mentor young people.

What about a green training and employment programme targeted at communities dependent on tourism?

What if we froze business rates for the next 5 years?

We have no shortage of small businesses who are eager to expand and grow

and yet with everything the world has thrown at them

ideas to help Welsh firms are in short supply.

But I can tell you one idea that won’t help our economy recover –

and that’s Labour’s COVID passports.

Vaccines and boosters are definitely our way out of the pandemic, but COVID passports are not.

I want to be very clear –

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have supported every move in tackling the Coronavirus in Wales.

But we are fundamentally opposed to Labour’s plans for COVID Passports.

For the first time, citizens will be asked to provide private medical data to a stranger who is not their clinician.

And there’s even doubt over whether COVID Passports will even help.

Research by Swansea University found that vaccine passports were one of the factors which might actually discourage vaccination.

We have made incredible progress on vaccination rates in Wales,

and I want to pay tribute to the staff and volunteers involved.

But if the Labour Government wants to increase vaccine uptake among those that are hesitant,

this is not the way to do it.

So it’s a plan that adds burden on top of uncertainty,

could make people less likely to be vaccinated,

won’t reduce transmission rates,

and may see people let down their guard.

And where’s the opposition?

The convenient Conservatives who oppose vaccine passports here despite the Prime Minister still actively considering such a plan in England.

Or Plaid Cymru who see-sawed between opposition and meek support on the coattails of their agreement with Labour?

It is the Welsh Liberal Democrats providing that independent, constructive challenge,

championing individual freedoms and dignity.

Wales needs a liberal voice.

And whether it’s Welsh Lib Dem councillors

Fighting the closure of rural schools

Fighting for better public transport

Fighting for children and young people in care

Standing up to the powerful who refuse to take action on cladding despite raking in profits

Demanding action on our planet.

We are the ones setting out a vision of a freer, fairer, more liberal Wales where each individual,

our communities,

and our planet can thrive.

Fy neges olaf yw hwn –

Os ydych chi am I rywun sefyll I fyny dros dy gymuned

Dros wasanaethau cyhoeddus

Dros busnesau bach

Dros ein hamgylchedd

Dros Gymru rhyngwladol

Dwi angen i chi mynd ati I ethol rhagor o Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru mis Mai nesaf.

Oherwydd mae angen arnom mwy nag erioed.

Rhyngwladolwyr

Edrych I’r dyfodol

Tosturiol

Pencampwyr democratiaeth, rhyddid, ac urddas.

Dyna yw ein pwrpas a dyna yw ein haddewid i Gymru.

So my final message is this –

If you want someone who will stand up for your community

For public services

For small businesses

For our environment

For a global, outward looking Wales

then I need you to get out there and elect more Welsh Liberal Democrats next May

Because we’re needed now more than ever.

Internationalist

Future looking

Compassionate

Championing democracy, liberty, and dignity.

That is our purpose and our promise

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One Comment

  • George Thomas 12th Oct '21 - 10:50am

    I think it’s a good speech in parts but Boris Johnson was recently criticised for ignoring reality and I wonder if same could be said here?

    Covid passports are unwelcome but SAGE is now suggesting early, low-cost measures be put into place to avoid later, far more disruptive measures and I can’t see what LD’s would go for instead of Covid passports.

    Wales is suffocated by a UK Conservative government which despises devolution and only plan for stronger economy in Wales is to make it fully reliant on tourism and yet Tories haven’t been out of first place in polls for Westminster for goodness knows how long…and they’re securing this further with changes to electoral system which makes it a less fair and less representative process. If we think about how different parties foresee us moving away from Welsh economy being suffocated: Plaid want independence (massively unlikely), Welsh Labour think there might be a Labour government in Westminster (very, very unlikely) and Welsh LD’s think? Are we secretly counting down days til Murdoch and Michael Gove boots out Boris and the current anti-devolution idea stops?

    Tories are happy to see Wales rot so long as it can be used to attack Labour in England but for everyone else the problems are easy to see, we all have pretty similar idea of what Wales should be and as long as England continues to vote the same way it always does that seems impossible.

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