I was proud to make my first speech to Welsh Labour conference last weekend as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.
As we face the biggest drop in living standards in 30 years thanks to the Tory cost of living crisis, our Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay are putting money back into peoples’ pockets through a £330 million support package, and Labour-led Councils across Wales are building for the future.
Electing a strong team of Welsh Labour Councillors in this May’s local elections will be another step towards a stronger, fairer and greener Wales for all of us.
It was a great weekend at our first in-person Welsh Labour Conference since 2019 – very good to catch up with colleagues, friends and campaigners across Wales as we build towards the vital Council elections coming this May.

You can watch my speech in full on my Facebook page by clicking here.

Alternatively, the full text of my speech is below:


Chair, conference, diolch/thank you for such a warm welcome.


Conference , I know that everyone here and across Wales, are thinking about the people of Ukraine.


The Putin regime’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a murderous attack not only on the Ukrainian people, but also on sovereignty, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.


The horrific suffering that we are seeing on our screens, increasing by the day, is too painful to comprehend.


Wales is a nation of sanctuary.


We stand ready to welcome and support refugees from Ukraine as we did from Afghanistan and from Syria.


I know the people of Wales will play their part.

But the UK Government has to step up.


The Home Secretary’s chaotic approach and the Government’s incomprehensible lack of planning has been deeply, deeply damaging.




Conference, this is the first time I have addressed you as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and it’s a huge honour to do so.


And I’m extremely proud not just to have been part of Keir’s shadow cabinet since his election – and what a speech that was this morning, conference – I’m proud because from first-hand experience, I know what a brilliant leader he is and what a brilliant Labour Prime Minister he will be.


Leading a Labour Government that will have our security, prosperity and respect at the heart of everything we do.

And as the country has seen during the past two years, Keir is a determined and dedicated public servant, who always puts the country’s interests first, just like our Welsh Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford.





Conference – I’m also extremely proud of our 22 Welsh Labour MPs both for the work they do on behalf of all their constituents but also for challenging and exposing day in day out, the damage the Tories are doing.


I want to thank my wonderful Shadow Welsh team colleagues; Jessica Morden, Gerald Jones and Debbie Wilcox in the Lords and of course, our Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour, Carolyn Harris whose inevitably successful campaigns epitomise the values of our Party.


Whatever we do in our Labour Party, we do it as a team and I want to echo Carolyn and Keir’s thanks to Louise Magee and Dave Costa, and to welcome Jo McIntyre and Joe Lock to their new leadership roles.


It’s always good to see Joes leading from the front.


Thank you also to all of our Welsh Labour staff who work their socks off to get our candidates elected at every level.


But none of us could do what we do without you, our Welsh Labour family. Without your support, commitment and dedication.


And to all our trade union friends across Wales – my wonderful trade union family for over 30 years – I want to say a very personal thank you.


Thank you for the honour of working with and for you, campaigning with you and winning with you.




Conference, in just 54 days it will be polling day.


The elections on 5th May will be our last elections before the next General Election and that can’t come soon enough.


People across Wales, across the UK, are facing the biggest drop in living standards in 30 years.


This is a Conservative cost of living crisis. A crisis made in Downing Street.


Down to the choices made by the Conservative Government.


  • The highest inflation rate for a decade,
  • Gas and electricity bills rising 14 times faster than wages
  • Cuts to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit
  • More people being pushed into higher rates of tax
  • National Insurance levels increasing by more than 10% – yet another broken Tory manifesto promise.
  • And a real-term cut to state pensions.


In just a couple of weeks’ time, the numbers on peoples’ payslips will go down and the numbers on their bills will go up.


It didn’t have to be like this.


Its time for a windfall tax on North sea Oil and Gas profits.


But what’s the Tories answer?


A buy now pay later scam from a loan shark Chancellor whose been too busy hiding and planning his leadership challenge than focusing on repairing the damage he and his Party have caused.

Building back badly.


Levelling down, not up.


We have a discredited, dishonest Prime Minister leading a discredited, dishonest Government.


What a contrast with our leadership in Wales.


A Welsh Labour Government that led us through the pandemic by listening to the scientists, making decisions in the national interest and communicating them clearly.


A Welsh Labour Government that has helped families and households deal with the Conservative cost of living crisis and put money back into peoples’ pockets through a £330 million support package:-


  • The doubling of the Winter Fuel Support Payment,


  • the Council Tax Reduction Scheme,
  • the real living wage for social care workers,
  • and free school meals for every child in primary schools across Wales with funding for free school meals during the Easter, Whitsun and Summer holidays

That the difference that Labour in power makes.




Conference – when I think back to the start of the pandemic two years ago, I remember about how our Welsh Labour representatives at every level swung into action.


Within 48 hours, Labour led Councils and Labour Councillors, our council staff with our trade unions put huge changes into effect and adapted to unprecedented circumstances.


People moved to different and new jobs because that was what was needed.


And they kept going.


I saw my own local Welsh Labour Councillors, and others across Cardiff, picking up prescriptions, delivering food and essential medicines to those who were vulnerable or shielding, also organising food drops to key workers in our hospital.


In Wrexham, Labour Councillors at The Venture charity in Caia Park, that provides trailblazing play facilities, learning and support for children and young people – showed real leadership – in contrast to independent councillors in control of Wrexham Council fighting amongst themselves instead of for the people of Wrexham.


Our Labour Councillors, up and down Wales, have been inspirational in the most difficult of times.

But as well as helping get our communities through the pandemic, Labour Councils have been investing and delivering for the future.


In Bridgend, the Labour Council has helped more than 4,600 people into work through their dedicated employability scheme.


At the height of the second COVID wave, Labour’s Caerphilly Council delivered their one millionth free school meal. An astonishing achievement made possible by a great Labour Council and financial support from our Welsh Labour Government.


In Cardiff there are plans for thousands of new Council homes over the next two years – including the recently completed brand new net-zero Council homes welcoming their first occupants in Cardiff Central.


90% more efficient than standard homes; tackling the housing shortage, climate crisis and reducing energy costs all at the same time.

And I’ve seen hundreds of high-quality new homes in Flint, together with newly built care facilities and a superb town centre regeneration that has created jobs and apprenticeships locally, all delivered by the Labour led Council in Flintshire.




Conference – in recent weeks Wales has borne the brunt of three storms, wreaking havoc within days of each other.


And our impact of the floods and the damage they caused to our valley communities is still very raw.


Significant investment in infrastructure and flood defences have been made by Labour Councils across Wales, including in Neath Port Talbot, Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf amongst others.




And most importantly – for Wales’s future and future generations – our Welsh Labour Government and Welsh Labour-led Councils are transforming our schools through the 21st Century Schools Building Programme, delivering the best possible learning environments for our children and young people from Bishopston to Bryn-y-Baal.




Conference – we want, and we need to continue this work.


To continue to make that positive difference for all our communities – villages, towns and cities across Wales.


That’s why we must get as many of our brilliant Welsh Labour candidates elected as we can in 54 days’ time.


I talked earlier about how we only achieve what we achieve, as a team.

And imagine what a great team that would be – more Labour led Councils, Mark as our First Minister and Keir as our Prime Minister leading our Labour Government.


Our first step towards that is on 5th May.


I know you will do everything you can to get as many of our council candidates over the line.


To make that difference.


So, conference – let’s get out there and do it.


Thank you.



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