Wales politics

Jeremy Corbyn defends Labour record in Welsh government

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn said he had a "very good meeting" with First Minister Carwyn Jones to discuss the run up to the assembly elections

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended his party's record in government in Wales, but said there were "issues" about some areas of health and education.

He has praised the record of Health Minister Mark Drakeford but acknowledged "issues about speciality treatment".

He said these were being tackled by link-ups with large English hospitals.

Mr Corbyn said the Welsh government's record on schools was improving.

A YouGov poll of voters in Wales for Cardiff University and ITV Wales suggested support for the Labour party had risen since Mr Corbyn was elected as leader.

42% of the 1,010 people questioned said they would vote Labour in a general election, a rise of five percentage points since June, while 39% would choose the party in an assembly election, up four points.

Speaking in his first interview in Wales since being elected, Mr Corbyn said where Wales has lagged behind the other UK nations in international performance league tables for schools, its record would improve further.

The new leader told BBC Wales he would be campaigning in Wales "plenty of times" in the run-up to next year's assembly elections as Labour fights to stay in power in Cardiff Bay.

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Asked if he is "fiercely pro-business" - as First Minister Carwyn Jones says his administration is - he said he was pro-economic expansion and development.

Mr Jones denied his pro-business principles were at odds with Mr Corbyn.

"It's the same thing. If you're pro-business you're pro-economic development," he told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales.

He added: "If you're pro-economic development, you're pro creating jobs and you're pro-business. There's no conflict between saying we want to support business to create jobs and at the same time saying we want to have good public services."

Mr Corbyn, who is opposed to nuclear weapons, dismissed a suggestion from Mr Jones that Britain's Trident nuclear submarine system would be welcome in Wales if forced to leave their current base in Scotland.

"I don't think it could be placed anywhere in Wales anyway and it's not going to be placed anywhere in Wales," he said.

Challenged on Labour's record on the NHS, with the independent Nuffield Trust suggesting performance in key areas has declined since 2010, he said: "There's a 95% approval rating from patients using the NHS in Wales.

"Mark Drakeford has done very well on ending the internal market, thus creating greater efficiencies.

"There are issues about speciality treatment in Wales because of the size of the population and the size of the hospitals that are needed for very specialist treatment.

"Therefore the link-up with big hospitals in Bristol or Liverpool or indeed in Shrewsbury to achieve that kind of service for everybody in Wales.

"And so that's the importance of an NHS for the whole of the UK as well as obviously within Wales, but I think Wales should be very proud of the fact that it produced the founder of the NHS."

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On schools, he said: "It's improving and it will improve and it will improve further.

"I think everyone accepts that because if we don't provide the best education for children during their school years then clearly all their other life chances become more limited as a result of that.

"And so, there are issues surrounding why some children do better than others in school, issues surrounding accessibility, issues surrounding home poverty but Welsh Labour is working very hard to provide the best possible opportunities for all young people and an improving environment."

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