9:40am Tuesday 24th April 2007 in News
I LOVE campaigning for Labour at election times.
Campaigns are always great fun because I get to meet so many interesting people on the street, in their homes.
Every time I hit the campaign trail I am reminded all over again of the hard work of Welsh people and the success we are achieving together on the ground.
Seeing new schools up and running, new hospital facilities providing a better service to patients and people getting stuck into their careers is what motivates me to do the job I do.
And that is what should motivate people to vote Labour in the Assembly election.
Labour has invested record amounts in our health service, eliminating long waits for hospital operations and introducing free prescriptions for all.
We are getting Wales working again, with record numbers of people now in employment. How different to the Tory days of misery and desolation.
We will create well-paid jobs of the future, which is why we have committed to creating an additional 25,000 apprenticeships in Wales.
Only Labour working hard for our people can eliminate child poverty in Wales. We are committed to eradicating child poverty entirely by 2020, judging everything the Assembly does by its impact on securing this goal.
We will provide an extra £100 to the Baby Bonds of children in disadvantaged communities entering school, £50 for all children.
Labour is serious about building safer communities. We are committed to tough new fines for those who litter and vandalise our communities, with a new £16m fund to clean up our towns and cities.
But we also recognise that young people need more to do, which is why we will provide a £20m capital fund for new youth facilities.
The choice in this election is clear. It's Labour or a Tory-dominated coalition. The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Independent candidates have refused to rule out serving in a coalition with the Tories in the Assembly.
Only Labour can guarantee a Tory-free Wales, keeping the Tories away from our NHS and schools.
When I next meet people on the streets in Gwent I want to do so as a proud Labour First Minister of Wales.
I do not want to have to talk to people about Tories back in charge of their public services. My message to local people is if they value what we have achieved together, our plans for the future, then they have to use their votes for Labour.