Wales

Andrew RT Davies: Tories must have a coalition of ideas

  • 12 April 2014
  • From the section Wales
Media captionWelsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said he was not a "career politician"

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives has told party members they must be open to a "coalition of ideas".

Andrew RT Davies said the party - which has been in opposition since the Assembly was created in 1999 - needed to listen to ideas from outside.

His words will be seen as a hint the party could be open to forming a coalition with other parties after the assembly elections in 2016.

Mr Davies called the current Welsh Labour government "lazy" and "tired".

"I believe Welsh Conservatives are mature enough to look at that coalition of ideas, to look where the best ideas can come from, and to date they've come from the Welsh Conservatives," he said during the second day of the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen.

"It means reaching out to anyone who has the best interests of the people of Wales at heart and wants to get us off the bottom of the league table whether it be in health, education or the economy, rather than this over-lording mentality Labour has."

Over the last few months Mr Davies has faced difficult situations and in February he sacked four members of his shadow cabinet for rebelling against him in a vote on devolving income tax.

He admitted there had been internal divisions within his party for years but in his speech on Saturday he called on members to have self belief.

"We have hope, we have ambition and above all we have the hope and ambition for the country we seek to lead," he said.

"I want my team to keep believing that we can keep on making that difference and build that coalition of ideas that we need to put in place to solve the problems of Wales."

Earlier, Welsh Secretary David Jones accused the Labour-led Welsh government of letting down an entire generation of young people, due to a "continuing decline in the education system".

Mr Jones has attacked Labour's record on education at the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen.

It follows an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on the Welsh education system.

The report praised "positive" learning conditions but found many weaknesses.

"Wales lacks a compelling and inclusive long-term education vision to steer the education system and its reform efforts," Mr Jones said at the second day of the conference.

The most recent Pisa international education tests, which are run by the OECD, ranked Wales bottom in the UK.

The 2012 Pisa tests in science, maths and reading were taken by 500,000 15-year-olds in 68 countries.

"The Pisa statistics published recently were, frankly, shocking," Mr Jones added.

"They showed Wales to be the weakest of the home nations in maths, science and reading.

"On some measures, education in Wales is no better than in some of the eastern European nations emerging from decades of communism."

Mr Jones argued that good education is crucial in a wholly global economy and to compete in that market the young people of Wales needed an "excellent education".

During the conference Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith spoke about his party's welfare reform.

"I have fought so hard to create and introduce Universal Credit, now running in England, Scotland and Wales - in Shotton from 7 April - and set to roll out further across the north west," he said.

Universal Credit is replacing six benefits, including jobseeker's allowance, income support, child tax credit and housing benefit.

Image caption David Cameron said Wales had been 'woefully let down by Labour'

He said the behavioural effect of the reform was "striking" and allowed more people to enter the workforce.

"Across the UK, there are now a lower proportion of workless households than at any time on record, down 450,000 since 2010, and down 23,000 in Wales," Mr Duncan Smith said.

Addressing the conference on Friday, David Cameron attacked the Welsh government's handling of the NHS.

He said Wales was witnessing a "national scandal" as Offa's Dyke "has become the line between life and death".

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also launched his strongest attack on the NHS in Wales, claiming it is "sleepwalking to a Mid Staffs tragedy".

He criticised Wales' record on waiting times and ambulance targets.

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