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Economy, not devolution, will decide how Wales votes says Welsh Secretary

Both Carwyn Jones and Stephen Crabb will give their different takes on Welsh economic performance Photo: PA

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is expected to use a speech later this morning to remind decision makers that most people in Wales won't be thinking about constitutional issues when they cast their votes on election day.

The constitution is not the defining issue in Welsh politics.When people make their judgements about the Government in Westminster in 2015 or the Assembly in 2016, they won’t be thinking about whether Wales needs a reserved power model or not. They will be thinking about the prospects for them and their families, [asking] are things picking up, are there more job opportunities, are businesses flourishing, are we making progress –or are we going backwards?

And when it comes to the quality of public services –which people in Wales care passionately about- the foundation for strong public services is a strong underlying economy. The economy is the issue on which any Government is ultimately judged.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP

Mr Crabb will claim that Welsh voters will give credit to the Westminster Government and predict that 2015 "will be the year that Wales lets go of Labour".

In 2014 Wales saw the biggest increase in the number of new businesses starting up than anywhere else in the UK. Last year Wales attracted its highest number of inward investment projects for nearly a quarter of a century. And the number of people in Wales claiming jobseekers' allowance is currently at a six year low. Contrast that with Wales under successive Labour governments. It was the era when Wales became poorer, fell to the bottom of the economic league tables; when inward investment dried up; the era when the hugely successful Welsh Development Agency was abolished; an era which saw the erosion of the Welsh manufacturing base, de-skilling, dependency.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP

First Minister Carwyn Jones will also be highlighting the economy today, with a vist to accountants Deloitte, who are creating 700 new jobs in Cardiff, with £3.5 million of Welsh government support.

It’s fantastic that through Welsh Government funding we’re supporting a major employer in Wales to create 700 new jobs outside London over the next five years. We’re looking to make Central Cardiff Enterprise Zone the location of choice for financial and professional services operations in the UK outside of London. I hope that our significant investment in Deloitte will draw the attention of other international companies looking to invest in Wales. We’re becoming the first choice for businesses looking to expand their operations and we’re proud to be supporting business growth, strengthening and delivering for our economy.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

There's little doubt that the economy will continue to be the issue on which elections are decided. Though the last Labour Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, has been warning his party not to be trapped by the Conservatives' economic arguments.

It may be good politics for the Tories, leading Labour on the economy, according to pollsters. And this is why Labour’s leaders have been obliged to have their own deficit plan, simply to get a hearing from interviewers and commentators oblivious to Keynes’s excoriating denunciation of similar primitive and failing policies in the 1920s and 1930s. But it is lousy economics. Before the last election David Cameron trumpeted that Labour’s commitment to halve the budget deficit would take Britain 'over the brink into bankruptcy'. The whole deficit should be eliminated, he insisted, pledging to cut borrowing to exactly half what Labour had planned –£37 billion instead of £74 billion by 2014-15.

Yet official forecasts are that government borrowing will exceed £91 billion -nearly £20 billion more than Labour’s allegedly 'disastrously high' target, more than £50 billion above the Tory one. Never mind: they’ve just moved the goalposts, insisting their 'plan' is working after all.

The Labour leadership must hammer home how slow economic growth only delays deficit reduction and that Labour will prioritise reviving Britain’s failing recovery by scrapping austerity. Tacking to the Tories and their media allies as Ed Miliband’s Blairite and Tory critics demand is to sign up to their Alice in Wonderland economics.

– Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain MP