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BBC Wales's David Cornock
"Those who hope that the Assembly will be given more power are likely to be disappointed"
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BBC Wales's political editor David Williams
"Labour's top guns chose to come to Rhyl to launch the Welsh manifesto"
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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Murphy launches Labour manifesto
Margaret Hodge, Paul Murphy and Rhodri Morgan at Labour's Welsh election launch
Labour chose to launch their Welsh manifesto in Rhyl
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has launched Labour's election manifesto for Wales saying voters have the choice of carrying on with his party's reforms or returning to the boom and bust of the 1980s.

He said the electorate was faced with a choice between "unfounded and short term tax cuts" under the Conservatives or chosing Labour for continuing investment in public services.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy: Voters face choice

Mr Murphy, who heads Labour's campaigns in Wales, was accompanied by First Secretary Rhodri Morgan and UK Employment Minister Margaret Hodge for the Welsh launch in the northern seaside town of Rhyl.

He said the manifesto was the result of a "very close working relationship and partnership between those of us in the UK government and the newly elected National Assembly".

All three Labour representatives said they were "united in rejecting nationalism which would isolate and bankrupt Wales".

And Ms Hodge said the manifesto was a "10-year programme resourced from the UK but largely delivered by the assembly - the devolved Government here in Wales".

Earlier in Birmingham Tony Blair had unveiled the 44-page UK manifesto pledging to modernise and reform the education, health and criminal justice system.

It also commits the party not to raise basic or higher rates of income tax during the next parliament.

Mr Blair said Labour was asking the British people to allow it get on with the job of delivering "real and radical" change.

Cynog Dafis
Cynog Dafis: Labour's policies have failed

The manifesto contains many pledges already outlined by the party covering health, education and law and order.

In Wales, the party is promising to deliver its programme of reform of public services through the Labour-Lib Dem coalition in the Welsh Assembly.

A thousand more nurses,and 380 more doctors will be created within three years.

It also promises 10 new hospitals over 10 years (using the Private Finance Initiative) as well as 425 more hospital beds by May 2003, the time of the Welsh Assembly elections.

It also pledges cancer patients will get a hospital appointment within 10 days of urgent GP's report.

Also included is a 300m five year plan for integrated transport in Wales and a promise of an extra 290m for school buildings in Wales over the next three years.

However, unlike in England, there is no specific target for teacher recruitment, as there is less of a problem with that in Wales.

The manifesto also revealed plans for a 83 million Communities First initiative in Wales for the country's 100 most deprived areas while the party said it was committed to funding an extra 240 police recruits.
Labour general election manifesto
Labour's manifesto promises radical reforms

Afterwards at a media briefing Mr Murphy hinted that his post would not be axed after the election.

While campaigning in Scotland earlier in the week, Tony Blair had given an indication that he would retain the Scottish Secretary post - and by association the Welsh equivalent.

But Plaid Cymru dismissed Labour's manifesto as "right-wing" and accused the party of turning its back on Wales and treating Welsh communities with contempt.

"After four years, it is clear to most in Wales that New Labour are no better than the old Tories," said Plaid's policy director Cynog Dafis..

Meanwhile, the Conservatives targeted the rural vote in Wales claiming that people in the countryside had never been more desperate for a change of government.

Tory Agriculture spokesman James Paice, campaigning in Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, said the countryside was in crisis long before the government's "disastrous" handling of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The Liberal Democrats who haven been highlighting social exclusion in the south Wales valleys accused Labour of showing "poverty of ambition" in their manifesto.


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