Wales politics

Vote 2011: Labour promises Wales a 'beacon of hope'

Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones says his party will deliver if voters return it to power in the assembly.

Launching its election manifesto, he said the party had identified where it could do more after 12 years leading the assembly government.

He said Labour was proud of its record but promised "a very strong emphasis indeed" on delivery in the next term.

The manifesto offered "hope for the people of Wales," he added.

Labour said the manifesto contains more than 400 "action points" and followed its biggest policy consultation in the run-up to an assembly election.

Unveiling the document in the target Vale of Glamorgan seat, Mr Jones said it was fully-costed and contained a full legislative programme.

Labour has been in the assembly government since 1999. It has either ruled on its own or in coalition with the Liberal Democrats or, for the past four years, Plaid Cymru.

Mr Jones criticised opposing parties' policies but said Labour would not fight a negative campaign.

"Above all this manifesto offers hope for the people of Wales," he said.

"All we have at the moment is doom and gloom from the Tory-led government in Westminster.

"This is a document that offers a better way forward for the people of Wales."

He added: "We are proud of our record. We know there is work to be done, inevitably, and we have identified that and are honest about it.

"I think we have been delivering but we can do better."

Elite officials

The manifesto said: "Delivery will be Welsh Labour's watchword in the fourth assembly term."

It promised to establish a delivery unit at the heart of administration under the first minister.

Under Labour, the assembly government would also launch a commission to look at the way all public services are delivered.

Labour intends the first minister to take direct control over some policy areas, including energy.

There will be a review of the way the civil service in Wales operates, with the suggestion of a training college for elite officials.

The direct law-making powers handed to the assembly by last month's referendum would be used in a social care bill.

Labour will look at whether a not-for-profit company can be set up to take over the Wales and the Borders rail franchise when it is up for renewal in 2018.

Labour will press for "fairer funding" of the assembly government by the Treasury, but will not seek powers to vary income tax.

In his manifesto introduction, shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said the election was an opportunity for voters to send a message to David Cameron and Nick Clegg "that Wales is being treated unfairly and their deep and savage cuts are hurting but not working".

He said flagship policies from the first decade of devolution - such as free bus passes for older people and free prescriptions for all - "are at risk under the Tories".

'Record of failure'

"You must vote for Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour if we are to keep these safe," Mr Hain said.

Nerys Evans, Plaid's policy director and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire candidate, said: "Labour's manifesto is a 109-page attempt to justify their record of failure - with virtually no new ideas to improve Wales' economy, education and health services."

The Conservatives attacked Labour's handling of the economy, saying Carwyn Jones and Ed Miliband had to explain how they would tackle the UK's deficit.

Welsh Tory assembly leader Nick Bourne said: "We need to ensure that we live within our means so we don't end up paying higher taxes and face deeper cuts just to pay off our debt."

Lib Dem Cardiff Central candidate Nigel Howell said: "Labour promise a decade of delivery having given Wales a decade of decline."