Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives
As a Conservative, you might expect me to be pleased when the Labour Welsh Government looks to my colleagues at Westminster for inspiration.
But working day-in, day-out as an Assembly Member at our Welsh Parliament, this can be a cause for infuriation, rather than pleasure.
It’s sadly also rather telling of the poverty of ambition that lies at the heart of the Welsh Government, an administration which is bereft of ideas.
Let’s take two fully devolved portfolio areas for example – the environment and animal welfare.
Where the Conservative Government and Michael Gove have set the pace and raced ahead in the fields of animal welfare and the environment, Wales is playing catch-up.
Under a tired and stale Labour regime, we’ve become immune to the now all too frequent Ministerial response, which is that they’ll ‘reflect on the initiatives announced in England’ and make a further statement in due course.
In effect, we’ve got no ideas of our own and Wales will piggy-back on the proposals of others when the Labour machine finally wakes up and kicks into the gear.
Even for a Conservative, this can be infuriating.
The question that everyone in Wales should be asking is why isn’t the Labour Government generating these sort of ideas themselves?
These are areas that are fully devolved, where substantial policy changes could be implemented tomorrow if they so wished, but they are asleep at the wheel.
Why shouldn’t Wales be the most animal-friendly nation in the world? Why shouldn’t Wales lead the way when it comes to banning single-use plastics?
The only thing that seems to be stopping us is the government of the day in Cardiff Bay and regrettably, Wales is being held back through a combination of Labour’s inertia and incompetence.
This is just a couple of small examples of why we need to deliver change here in Wales. That’s before we’ve even addressed the performance of our public services…
But when I travel the country, meeting people from all walks of life, I see people with the energy, drive and ideas to make Wales thrive.
I also meet people who share my frustration with the Welsh Government’s performance and its inability to drive up prosperity and public service performance.
For me, I’ve got no doubt that we are sitting on an untapped goldmine of potential which Labour have consistently failed to exploit over the past two decades.
Our country’s current leadership is happy with the status quo – happy for our country to plod on, bottom of numerous league tables.
In fact, the frontrunner to be next First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has even expressed how little he will change if he lands the top job!
We’re better than this. It’s about time we started generating our own ideas which will allow us to invest in our people, in our communities and our country.
Yesterday, on the eve of our Welsh Conference, we unveiled a comprehensive package of proposals aimed at revitalising and regenerating our towns and cities so they are fit for purpose in the 21st century.
At the heart of the strategy is an emphasis on “liveability”, with a series of proposals to deliver “healthier, happier” cities.
A country fit for tomorrow, ready for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
From putting an emphasis on electric vehicles to establishing a technology infrastructure fund, we believe innovation and investment should be at the heart of Wales’ journey to prosperity.
And as an AM, improving Wales’ fortunes is what gets me up in the morning, as I’m sure it is for many others in Welsh politics, even those on the Labour benches.
But seeing our country consistently lagging behind the rest should pain any proud Welshman or woman who wants more for their family.
Wales can do better, and as politicians we can do better.
No party has a monopoly on good ideas – I’ve been steadfast in that belief from day one and I’m also sure that Wales doesn’t necessarily have to mean Labour and Labour most certainly doesn’t mean Wales.
And whilst not underestimating the challenge, there are only two roadblocks preventing us from unlocking progress and prosperity in Wales.
One is the Labour Party and the other is those who refuse to accept Labour are the problem, who instead just shout blindly at the Tories.
We haven’t been responsible for our ever-worsening education standards nor the fact one in seven people across Wales are currently languishing on an NHS waiting list.
Shouting at my benches isn’t the answer. People across Wales desperately need our politics in our Parliament to mature otherwise we’ll continue to come bottom of every league table going.
And for us to change Wales, it’s clear we’ll need to put our national interest ahead of our own parties.
We need the best and brightest in Wales working together, not against each other.
It’s what our children deserve because we can’t afford another two generations lost due to decades more of Labour inertia and incompetence.
We need to be leaders in the world, not followers.
I’m a proud Welshman and I’m willing to make this change happen – a scenario which frees Wales from Labour rule.
It’s now up to others if they are willing to work together to do the same in Wales’ national interest.
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