Wales politics

Welsh Labour conference: Bid to 'build on our record'

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Media captionCarwyn Jones says it is time to be more ambitious for Wales

Wales is "on the up" under Labour, the first minister has said as he prepares to launch the party's assembly re-election bid.

Speaking ahead of Labour's spring conference in Llandudno, Carwyn Jones said it achieved promises made in 2011 despite "huge cuts" from Westminster.

He hailed improved exam results, jobless figures, and cancer survival rates.

Mr Jones warned against handing power to a "ragbag coalition".

Labour has been in power in the Senedd since its creation in 1999, and is hoping to secure another five-year term in office at the election in May.

It currently holds 30 of the assembly's 60 seats.

"This year's conference and the upcoming election represents the half-way point in our decade of delivery," said Mr Jones, first minister since 2009.

"We achieved all the promises we set out in 2011 despite huge cuts from the Tories and now we must win again to build on our record.

"Wales is on the up. Exam results, employment figures, cancer survival rates - all going up."

Image copyright Welsh Labour

Labour's campaign pledges for 2016 include 100,000 new apprentices and a fund to pay for new drugs on the NHS.

Mr Jones added: "There is a new momentum in Wales - in the performance of our schools, in the numbers of new jobs and in the performance of our NHS.

"Now it is time to build on the strong foundations we have laid - not risk it all with a ragbag coalition of other parties combining economic illiteracy and huge cuts to services."

Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews defended the party against opposition claims that Wales needed a change after 17 years of Labour rule.

He pointed out Labour had spent the last five years as a minority government, and had previously been in coalitions with Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

"We have to discuss things with other political parties, we have to have input from them, for example to get our budget through," he told BBC Radio Wales on Friday.

"We have a Welsh system of government in which a number of political parties have contributed to the priorities.

"But the people of Wales still endorse Labour as the leadership team for Wales."

The conference takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs editor

The past 12 months have been amongst the most tumultuous in Labour's history.

After crashing to an unexpected defeat in the general election, the party swung sharply to the left with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and the party at Westminster remains riven over both issues and strategy.

Welsh Labour will be hoping to insulate themselves from the party's wider travails in May's assembly elections by concentrating on the track record of Carwyn Jones' government and the key pledges to be implemented should Labour be returned for a fifth successive term in Cardiff Bay.

Even if the Welsh party succeeds in putting some distance between itself and the UK party, it faces strong challenges over its handling of Welsh public services, in particular the NHS.

The party's patchy record, combined with a mood for change after 17 years of Labour rule in Cardiff Bay, leaves Labour vulnerable and, privately, party sources are resigned to losing ground in May.

The quirks of the assembly electoral system and a divided opposition should see Labour again emerge as easily the largest party in Cardiff Bay.

However, a successful conference would help calm the jitters of activists as the party navigates some very choppy waters.

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