In her New Year’s message, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM argues that her party heads into 2016 united, growing, and up for the fight for the Assembly Elections.
Arguing that 2016 will be the year where Labour’s failings of public service delivery are put under a microscope, Kirsty Williams writes that Wales is crying out for fresh ideas and a government that puts people first.
Her full message can be read below.
2016 will be a big year for Wales. With the Assembly elections just around the corner, people will soon decide who they want representing them in Cardiff Bay.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats head into these elections with our heads held high and a record to be proud of. During this Assembly, we have used our influence in budget negotiations to secure, amongst other things, over £200 million extra investment in schools through our Welsh Pupil Premium. This policy, directed at pupils that need it most, is central to what we believe in: ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, will get a fair start in life. Despite being a small group in the Assembly, we have made a big difference to the communities we represent.
We combine this dedication to fairness with a pro-enterprise agenda. We believe in supporting people who have ambition and ideas. We understand that it’s not just government that creates jobs, but business too. We recognise that in the real world, even our brightest need support to create and innovate.
2016 must be the year where Wales’ economy no longer gets left behind. Wales needs vision and ambition to help get our economy moving. Under the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Wales can be competitive again.
The 2016 Assembly elections will put a microscope on Labour’s record on public service delivery. The fact is that sixteen uninspiring and wasted years under Labour rule has left Wales lagging behind the rest of the UK on health, education and the economy. Wales is crying out for fresh ideas, not the same old Labour Ministers making the same old tired decisions.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats will make government work for people by putting people first. For too long Labour has listened only to vested interests; we will listen to the people.
People want NHS staff to have the time to deliver decent care in hospitals - that is why we are delivering a ‘More Nurses’ bill to ensure a safe number of nurses on hospital wards.
People want teachers to have the time to be able to dedicate to each pupil - that is why we’ll deliver smaller class sizes by capping them at 25.
People want a safe, secure home for themselves and their family – that is why we’ll double the number of affordable homes being built, while offering support for first time buyers.
People want a vibrant Welsh economy with real job opportunities – that is why we’ll tear down the barriers that stop businesses from expanding and we will create jobs by overseeing a small business revolution.
Our policy platform for 2016 is clear, concise and shows that we are the party on the side of pupils, parents and patients.
There is no other party like ours; we refuse to accept the status quo, which is exactly why we were the only party to have voted against the outrageous rise in Assembly Members’ pay.
Above all else, what makes us unique is that we are liberals. The Human Rights Act, the green agenda, mental health – we fight for the underdog, we fight for what is right, leading on the issues that no-one else will.
2016 could also be the year of the European referendum. The Liberal Democrats are the only UK party wholeheartedly committed to fighting to remain in the EU. We believe in an open, modern and inclusive Britain that stands tall in the world and doesn’t hide from it.
If David Cameron can’t, or won’t, make the case for the EU - and Labour are clearly ambivalent - the Liberal Democrats will lead this fight.
Over recent months the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been back in the business of winning by-elections; gaining seats off Labour and the Tories. Our party’s fight back will take this momentum into the New Year. With record growth in our membership: we are united, we are growing, and we are up for the fight.
In 2016 our mission will be to show people that we will help them reach their aspirations, that we have a record of delivery for our communities and that our values are needed in the Assembly now more than ever.
Best wishes for the New Year.
Kirsty Williams AM