Final day at AAD

15 May 2015

ASLEF’s annual assembly of delegates – our annual conference – is the policy-making parliament of our union. It concluded today, with the singing of the Red Flag, at the Park Inn Palace in Southend-on-Sea.

 

Guest speaker: Steve Gillan

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, came to Southend the day after his own conference closed in Southport. He said: ‘ASLEF is a fighting, campaigning union, great supporters of the miners’ strike of ’84-’85 and if the whole trade union movement had got behind the miners, like ASLEF, history would have been very different. Now we’re about to reap what 11 million Tory voters have sown.

‘Why did it go wrong for the Labour Party? Because they weren’t listening to ordinary working people, so ordinary working people abandoned them. For Labour to leave a gap for UKIP is disgraceful! The candidates put up for the Labour leadership do not inspire confidence. We don’t need a lurch to the right.

‘Some people said the Labour manifesto was a lurch to the left. Getting rid of zero hour contracts and the employment tribunal tariff and building new homes? Is that a lurch to the left? No! It’s treating people properly, in a civilised manner.

‘What sort of society do we want?’ It’s back to the Thatcher “I’m all right, Jack”society. A society of the haves and have nots. That’s why unions like ASLEF,the POA, and the RMT are so important.

‘My union does not have the right to take strike action. Although we have taken strike action! They can have all the legislation in the world but, when my members think it is right to take action, then we will take industrial action.Ignore the new laws. In a collective manner. The only way trade unions will win is by standing together.’

 

Guestspeaker: Lucy Anderson

Lucy Anderson, MEP for London, told delegates there were two main reasons Labour lost the election: ‘A whipping up of nationalism, in England, to terrify people from voting Labour, which we saw on the doorsteps in the last days of the campaign. And we didn’t have a clear and forceful enough argument on the economy, in terms of arguing for jobs and infrastructure. Every pound spent on investment in transport brings £4 in return but we didn’t have a strong enough narrative on that.

‘As someone on the left of the Labour Party, the link for Labour with the trade union movement is very important. People say Ed Miliband was too left-wing. You will think he wasn’t left-wing enough and, in some ways, I agree.

‘We lost at least 19 seats because of votes going to TUSC and the Greens. Nancy Platts lost, to the Tories, in the key marginal of Brighton Kemptown because so many votes went to the Greens. We didn’t lose because our polices were too left-wing.

‘Please don’t give up on the Labour Party. There is a distinct move to the left in the PLP and a better gender balance. The next London Mayor is vital and it is therefor us to win. We need someone to beat the right-wing and I am backing Sadiq Khan.

‘Some of the candidates for Labour leader have more commitment to an anti-austerity message than others. The only two who worry the Tories are Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham.’

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