Wales politics

General election 2017: Welsh Labour campaign launched

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Media captionCarwyn Jones says it was up to him to front Welsh Labour's campaign launch

First Minister Carwyn Jones has launched Welsh Labour's general election campaign - making no reference to UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a speech to activists in Cardiff.

Mr Jones unveiled the party's five pledges, including promises on the NHS, housing, schools and policing.

The first minister said the general election should not be about Brexit but about "seven years of Tory failure".

He defended his failure to mention Mr Corbyn, saying it was a Welsh launch.

Mr Jones told activists at the event on Monday that Labour's achievement "knows no bounds" when it stands united.

"We are in Welsh Labour together, councillors, MPs and AMs, we are united," he said.

The Welsh Labour leader said the party had "repelled" Tory advances in the Conservative target areas of Flintshire, Newport and Swansea in last Thursday's local elections.

Image caption Labour lost more than 100 seats on Welsh councils but many in the party had feared worse

"We did suffer some reversals. We'll learn from that," he said.

He called on voters to send back a "battalion of Welsh Labour MPs", saying Welsh Labour made "no apology" for local campaigning and boasting of its achievements governing Wales.

The party has five Welsh pledges for the election, three of which concern the devolved areas of health, education and housing:

  • Introduce a living wage of £10 an hour and invest in infrastructure, skills and new technology
  • Continue to give the NHS and social care services "the money they need" and continue work to join up "services from hospital to home"
  • Protect free school breakfasts and invest £100m to further improve school standards in Wales
  • 853 new police officers and "stronger rights" for victims
  • Deliver 20,000 more affordable homes

"This election has to be about seven years of Tory failure," Mr Jones said, claiming that austerity showed no sign of ending.

"This is not the Brexit election," he insisted. "That was the referendum last year - a result I respect. I was a Remainer - so was Theresa May."

Mr Jones claimed the prime minister had "no plan" for leaving the EU.

"I know that all she is doing at the moment is posturing," he said.

"We produced a plan, where's their plan?"

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Carwyn Jones with Jeremy Corbyn when the Labour leader visited Cardiff in April

Mr Corbyn visited Cardiff in April for a campaign rally shortly after the election was called.

With the first minister by his side, he had urged a crowd of about 700 on Whitchurch Common to join him on a journey of "hope and excitement", praising Labour's record in power in Wales.

Mr Jones told BBC Wales that the party leader was not mentioned at Monday's event "because it is Welsh Labour's campaign launch" which he himself was fronting.

"It's pretty clear to people who would be prime minister if we got a majority," the first minister said, denying that he thought Mr Corbyn was an electoral hindrance.

"We live in an age of devolution. That's why it's hugely important that parties put forward their Welsh pledges," he added.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

This is a clear strategy by Carwyn Jones' Welsh Labour to differentiate itself from Jeremy Corbyn's UK Labour party.

You can see why - the focus on Welsh Labour is thought to have helped the party hold on to a number of councils last week, and helped it fight off the Tories in marginal seats in the assembly campaign last year.

But how do you do it in a general election when it would not be Carwyn Jones walking into Downing Street but Jeremy Corbyn?

The lack of focus on the UK leader by Labour stands in stark contrast to the Conservatives who seem to talk about the leadership of Theresa May in every other sentence.

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