Andrew RT Davies says Wales needs 'bold solutions'

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Union members protesting outside the conference hall

Outside the Conservative conference in Manchester the TUC were demonstrating loudly against coalition cuts to public spending.

Inside Andrew RT Davies, giving his first UK conference speech as "our man in Wales", was loudly accusing the Welsh government of spending so much money on 'freebies' that there's nothing left for life-saving drugs.

One heck of an accusation. Not new but perhaps rather more bluntly put than before. The conference hall, it must be said, didn't seem to notice*.

And "whilst Labour has spent millions of pounds on bureaucracy" he went on, "Welsh pupils have been forced to suffer what the Education Minister admits is 'systemic failure' in our schools.

It came out as 'systematic failure' but in the conference hall, they didn't seem to notice. Neither, unfortunately for Mr Davies' scriptwriter, did they seem to notice his conference joke.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew RT Davies accused Labour of dithering

"Welsh Labour promised to stand up for Wales. Instead they've given us stand-up routine like Cannon and Ball. Carwyn Jones as Tommy Cannon; Leighton Andrews as Bobby Ball!"

On a cloudy Sunday afternoon and despite his best efforts, they were proving to be a bit of a tough audience to get going.

In fact, it was what you might call a bit of a Cannon and Tum-Ball-weed moment. Sorry. Couldn't help it.

Mr Davies' message was, as he put it in the Q+A session, "simple enough and straightforward". Under Labour things have got progessively worse in Wales and there's no sign of that changing. Why? Because Labour dither. Because Labour have run out of ideas. Because Labour cut where they should invest and spend where they could save.

"Bold solutions are now required to turn Wales around," he told conference.

If Labour come up with good ideas and "ditch the dogma", then the Secretary of State had already pledged that there will be co-operation from the UK government.

"We will make every effort to work with ministers in Cardiff to achieve what is best for Wales" said Cheryl Gillan, who resisted the tempation - and I'm guessing there must have been some of that - to have a tit-for-tat go at the Welsh Lib Dem leader.

But she did add something else - her own take on the commission that will (when? soon!) be established to consider the way Wales is funded.

It will, she said, be about "how to make ministers accountable for the money they spend. No more something for nothing! An end to power without responsibility."

That was pretty blunt and worthy of noting. No laughs there either.