Sunday, March 06, 2011

Conservatives' least popular cabinet minister addresses Welsh conference

Yesterday, Dr Vince Cable introduced himself as the 24th most popular cabinet minister in a recent opinion poll of Conservative members - out of 24. "It is not something I lose any sleep over," he said.

He went on: "It is a pleasure to be back in Wales today and it’s great to be able to return to a Wales that is so self confident and positive.

“The ‘yes’ vote in the referendum means that the Welsh government now has the tools to do the job that is has requested and a new era of Welsh devolution begins.

“The announcement earlier this week that the government will electrify the Great Western main line, improving journey times from London to Swansea, is positive news for the Welsh economy and evidence of the coalition investing in rail infrastructure where Labour failed in their 13 years in power.

“Less commented upon, but also of huge importance will be the electrification of the Valley lines to Cardiff.

“I am also pleased that the coalition government is now consulting on the possibility of making St David’s Day a public holiday, which itself could be a showcase for investment and tourism as well as a celebration of Wales’ national day.

"Wales’ economic issues run deep and the impact of the loss of much of its manufacturing base in the 1980s is still felt. With the right support, we can establish the growth in the private sector that Wales needs.

“Of course, not all of the economic levers rest in either Cardiff or London. It will require governments of different colours working together to rebuild the Welsh economy.

“By setting out a clear plan to tackle Labour’s deficit, the coalition has headed off financial disaster and the basis for a revival in manufacturing is in place.

“The policies that Kirsty Williams set out today, to focus relentlessly on the need to create new jobs and prosperity by investing in home-grown Welsh enterprises is exactly the approach needed in Wales and elsewhere.

“We are now at a turning point, where manufacturing is reviving, especially in high tech innovative firms and with Welsh strength in agriculture and tourism, there is every prospect, with the right policies and leadership, of a Welsh economic renaissance.”

Dr Cable admitted that things were still bad on the national economic front, but progress was being made. A tax on bank balance sheets would consistently bring in more income than Labour's one-off levy on bonuses. An agreement had also been reached - not as good as Dr Cable would have liked, but still a major step forward - on the amount of money banks would be committed to lend to small and medium-sized businesses.
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