IN the days ahead, the people of North Wales will make a big choice about the kind of future you want for your country.
It’s a choice between creating a future that is fair for all or a change that puts the recovery at risk, threatens public services and makes life tougher for families.
I’m proud that a Labour-led Welsh Assembly government working with Labour in Westminster has changed Wales for the better and for ever.
Working together, we took measures that softened the impact of the recession. We helped 5,000 businesses in North Wales to defer payments and get the cash flow they needed.
We provided real help for people to avoid home repossession. We will build on this by providing an additional 6,500 affordable homes for social housing in Wales by 2011.
And with the support of the ProAct and ReAct schemes, nearly 3,000 workers have been assisted with training and new skills and nearly 2,000 jobs have been protected in North Wales.
There are nearly 100,000 more people in jobs than when we first came to office, despite the recession. Yet every step of the way we were opposed by a Conservative party that hasn’t changed.
People in our communities in North Wales haven’t forgotten the medicine they had to swallow from the Conservatives in the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s. They don’t want a return to the days of Thatcher, Hague and Redwood.
Confidence is returning and we have safeguarded thousands of jobs in Flintshire through the £340million loan to Airbus that supported the development of the new A350.
The Tories would threaten the fragile recovery in Wales but Labour will maintain the funding we need to secure growth and protect public services.
The Welsh budget next year will be more than £15.7 billion, well over double what it was in 1997 and an increase of £500 million from this year’s budget. We have invested in public services like the NHS, opened new hospitals at Tremadog and Holywell and spent £12 million on new equipment at the North Wales Cancer Centre at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
There are extra doctors and nurses in our hospitals, with record low waiting times.
And we remain committed to finding the right location for a new prison in North Wales, creating up to 1,000 new jobs.
The new industrial partnership we will forge between business, universities and Government will create 1.5 million skilled new jobs across Britain and fully exploit Wales’ world-leading position in biotechnology and hydrogen energy.
We are committed to making Wales a leading provider of green energy, produced not only by wind, but from biomass, marine and microgeneration.
North Wales is well placed to exploit the knowledge economy, thanks to our investment in Bangor and Glyndwr Universities, the Technium at Bangor and Technium OpTIC in St Asaph.
I want Wales to lead in broadband and digital too. We will ensure that no business in North Wales and no family in North Wales is denied the chance to benefit from the digital revolution.
Again, the Tories opposed our broadband plans. With their uncosted pledges and determination to take £6 billion out of the economy this year, the Conservatives are a risk the families and businesses of North Wales cannot afford. In reality, this election is a two horse race. A vote for the other parties could allow a Conservative government in by the back door.
The soil of Wales is in the very soul of the Labour party.
That burning desire to overcome inequality drives us on today, even as a modern, confident Wales is poised to take advantage of the hi-tech, green industries of the future.
Labour will always be on the side of communities in North Wales but with the Tories, you’d be on your own.
I believe that a secure economic recovery and real support for business and families in Wales is the right way to build Labour’s future fair for all.
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