Welsh government's record set to come under fire at Conservative conference in Llandudno

Andrew RT Davies, who leads the Tories in the Senedd, will use his speech to accuse Mark Drakeford of having “the wrong priorities.” Credit: PA

Labour’s record in government in Wales will be once again the main focus of the Welsh Conservative conference which is taking place in Llandudno.

Andrew RT Davies, who leads the Tories in the Senedd, will use his speech to accuse Mark Drakeford’s government, with the support of Plaid Cymru with which it has a co-operation agreement, of having “the wrong priorities.”

He’s expected to say that “At the next General Election, our country has a clear choice. Strong leadership from Rishi Sunak, or letting Keir Starmer impose Mark Drakeford’s daft, divisive and destructive policies on the whole UK.”

A UK General Election is expected this year and Conservative politicians have repeatedly shown that they will highlight Welsh Labour’s record in government as a means of attacking Keir Starmer’s UK Labour.

They point to Sir Keir’s comments at Welsh Labour’s conference in 2022 when he said: "A Welsh Labour government is the living proof of what Labour in power looks like, how things can be done differently and better.

"You demonstrate daily the difference Labour really makes. A blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK.”

He’s backed off somewhat from that comment since then and last October Mark Drakeford dismissed altogether the idea that Wales would be a blueprint.

Speaking at Labour’s UK conference in Liverpool he said: “Wales will certainly play our part in [forming the policy of a future Labour government] but the idea that the United Kingdom was going to be Wales writ large, I don’t think that was ever a serious idea.”

That hasn’t stopped the Conservatives from making the charge. At last year’s Welsh Conservative conference, Rishi Sunak told members: “The people of Wales don’t want to be guinea pigs for Labour’s socialist agenda.”

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Today, the Welsh Tory leader is expected to return to the attack, saying that public services here “continue to decline because of Labour’s misplaced priorities.”

He’ll say: “Instead of hiring more doctors, nurses and teachers, Labour want more politicians. Their plans for Senedd expansion are a typical Labour vanity project. It’ll cost £120million. That cash should be going to our Welsh NHS.”

Under plans backed by a majority of Senedd members, the Welsh Parliament is set to expand in 2026 from 60 members to 96. The Senedd Commission, which runs the institution, estimates the total cost to it, the Welsh Government and local authorities of an 8-year transition period to be between £100 and £120m.

Mr Davies Is also expected to criticise Plaid Cymru’s role in the Senedd. The party has had a three-year “co-operation agreement” with the Welsh Government, which comes to an end this year. 

Under the agreement, several Plaid Cymru policies such as extending free school meals to primary school pupils have been delivered by the Welsh Government in return for allowing Labour’s budgets to be passed. 

The Welsh Conservative leader will use his speech to attack Plaid Cymru’s approach to farmers. He’s expected to say that “Plaid Cymru try to portray themselves as the friends of our farmers.

"They might talk a good game in their clean wellies when they’re meeting with our rural communities, but as soon as they’re back in their suits in Cardiff Bay, they are enabling Labour’s destruction of our farming industry. 

“Let me be clear, the Welsh Conservatives will always champion our farmers. We don’t say one thing to farmers and another in Cardiff Bay like Plaid Cymru do.”

He’s also expected to make another attack on Labour’s 20mph policy saying that it’s about “ideology more than common sense” and accuse the two candidates to replace Mark Drakeford of priorities “vanity projects and their extreme ideology.”

His speech isn’t expected to be full of criticism of the other parties. He’ll pledge that Welsh Conservatives would scrap “barmy 20mph speed limits” and “invest in our Welsh NHS.

Mr Davies will also promise to "get rid of Labour’s road building ban" which he will say has "stopped vital infrastructure projects like the M4 Relief Road and A55 improvements – to get Wales moving. 

And he will say that the Welsh Conservatives will "give small and medium-sized businesses a fair deal. Adding: "In Labour Wales – a typical pub pays £6,000 more in business rates than its counterpart in England. We’ll reform the system to end this injustice.”

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