Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference open thread #2 Aled Roberts’ speech Manifesto debate

This is being posted much later due to lack of wifi, but I hope this gives you a flavour of the debate.

Aled Roberts’ speech

Aled Roberts was introduced by chair Mark Cole in Welsh and delivered his speech in Welsh. He highlighted education:

Let’s not forget that the Lib Dems secured the Pupil Premium while not even in Government and have had it virtually trebled in the past 5 years as well as extending it to early years. Imagine what we could achieve if we were actually in Government?

Class sizes in Wales under Labour are among the highest in the developed world. Over 71740 infant pupils are taught in classes of more than 25 with 59% of infant classes having more than 25 pupils.

The younger the pupils, the more time and attention they need from their teachers. We would invest in more teachers to give them the time to focus on each child’s individual needs.

Manifesto Debate

Chloe Hutchinson talks about benefits to young people on a range of issues from housing to votes at 16. She says she’s proud to support the manifesto motion and calls on Wales to vote to stay in the EU.

Speaker now highlighting the fact that equality impact assessments will be done as a matter of course and that this will help to win back the trust of a more diverse range of people.

IR Cymru speaker Rhys Taylor now talking about the need for politicians to consider needs of young people as today’s generation faces being poorer than parents. He is glad to see policies which reflect the concerns of young people from skills development, environmental sustainability and access to physical and mental health services.

Carol O’Toole talks about Liberal Democrat commitment to communities, both urban and rural.

She highlights the section about empowering communities, reinvigorating local democracy and devolving power, which are long-held liberal values.

She spends time on the doorsteps encouraging people to get involved in their communities and make sure that their voice is heard.

Baroness Chris Humphreys is interested to see the proposals for the NHS, education, environment. communities and reforming the way we do politics.

She says it’s brilliant that we are not talking about re-organising the NHS and she is appalled by Plaid’s centralising reforms which she calls outrageous.

Our emphasis on care, dignity and compassion is vital. Ending mental health discrimination is extremely important. If we can at least follow Norman Lamb’s principles we’ll be going along the right road.

As a former teacher, she and welcomes the proposal to reduce class sizes to 25.

While the Tories roll back everything the Lib Dems did on the envirohment, she welcomes commitment in motion to have all electricity from renewable sources within 9 years.

On votes at 16, she says she can’t understand the attitudes of other political parties, who have consistently voted against in the House of Lords. Lib Dem Lords fought unsuccessfully to get 16 year olds the vote

Alison Willott says that if we don’t take action on climate change, we will end up with serious problems in Wales and beyond. It needs to be top of the agenda and we will have the greenest manifesto in the election.

There is so much more we could do to support flooding. Support for the Swansea barrage is so important. If we press for renewable based investment, there will be much opportunity for Wales in terms of jobs and investment.

How do you reconcile localism with need for renewables? You need to convince people that their children will be healthier, that it’ll give them reliable, safe electricity. – and give them a share of the profits, too.

She points out that Assembly’s building regulations stipulate a fire sprinkler system for new houses but no requirement for insulation. Solar panels should also be part of planning.

Andrew Lye talked of the need to support rural communities. He also talks about how Severn Toll removals are inhibiting business and investment in Wales as they don’t want to pay £13 a time.

Sara Lloyd Williams, Chair of IR Cymru speaks in Welsh and says how incredible it is for her as a young person to be able to do so. It’s important to give people chance to speak and use Welsh.

Few young people in her area have ability to speak English to extent business requires but why shouldn’t people become doctors by being taught through medium of Welsh. She argues for more support for Welsh medium education and we should be very proud of it.

There is much great stuff in the manifesto. She says that she lives in the middle of nowhere and struggles with internet speed. She had to travel to Llandudno to find somewhere with an internet connection with sufficient speed for her to submit her work.

She also says that we need to get rid of the idea that university is not better than apprenticeships.

Robin Rea says NHS is biggest issue facing voters in Wales and putting it at the centre of our plans is the right thing to do. Kirsty’s more nurses, improving access to GPs and better mental health care are all essental.

He calls for a GP survey in Wales to improve the performance of GPs.

He says Kirsty’s nurses’ bill shows that the Liberal Democrats are the most effective party in the National Assembly.

It’s a disgrace how people with mental ill health are treated in Wales, with a six month waiting time to be seen by a mental health specialist.

Suicide, he says, is more likely to kill you than car accidents and we need to talk about it more. He highlights that Eluned Parrott will be holding an Assembly debate on this in the next few weeks.

Paul Halliday talks about the Royal Gwent Hospital and how its new critical care unit is still, after years, nothing more than a field with a fence around it.

11 years on, A and E is in a portakabiin. That he says, is down to Labour’s failure.

On housing, he says that there is a housing crisis driving some people to the streets and rather than support rough sleepers, Labour turns them into criminals by using antiquated laws.

Paul is Scottish (he comes from the town where eI live) but he makes an impassioned plea for a new Welsh Language secondary school. Labour incompetence means that they will not even be able to find a site for the school until 2020.

“The years of Labour failures cannot continue. Wales deserves better and we will be better.”

Lord Martin Thomas talks about founding the Welsh Liberals in 1967 (the year I was born). He tale of his passion for Welsh devolution. He expresses his disappointment at Labour’s long standing failures. It is, he says, our job to put the energy and ideas back into the Welsh political scene. Labour have no ideas. They have no plan to deal with the closure at Port Talbot. They don’t have the capacity to deliver.

Labour have failed on the economy. GVA was 78 in 1999, Labour wanted to get it to 90. It’s now 71.

Health Service isn’t organised in such a way that it can succeed. Our education system is failing.

Everyone needs to get out and fight and win int he run-up to the election in May.

Jade Smith from IR Cymru speaks again, this time about transprt. She says it’s a nightmare to get from one end of Wales to the other. To travel cheaply to Aberystwyth, you need to leave about 20 past midnight.

She talked about the discrimination she faces for being on disability benefits – private landlords are reluctant to take on people on beneits.

She also called for better treatment for people with psychosis.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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