Mick's Column

Here you can find the regular column from ASLEF's General Secretary, Mick Whelan.

Passion, commitment, humanity and humour

August 2016

Jeremy Corbyn is one of the hardest-working men in the country. He spoke to more than 100,000 people, who loved the Labour leader, at the Durham Miners’ Gala, and thousands more the next weekend at Tolpuddle. Rallies he attends up and down this country are oversubscribed by men and women, young and old, from all of our communities, who want a Labour Party led by Jeremy. Perhaps the PLP,so keen to undermine him, should look to the membership, and the electorate? Then we can concentrate on progressive politics that changes lives for the better.

One man who agreed with me is someone ASLEF, and the whole labour movement, loved – Davey Hopper. His unwavering passion, commitment, humanity,and humour inspired many of us to believe in a better world and the greater good. His sad passing, just a week after the biggest Big Meeting of recent times, is poignant. Davey was a true working-class hero, and our friend.

It is strange how quickly you can go from being inspired to deflated;the unnecessary Labour leadership election – when we already have a perfectly good leader – and the shabby tactics, including the exclusion of trade union and affiliated members who joined on the promise of such rights, is nonsense. I could understand a future cut-off point, to prevent entryists, but not what has been proposed.

The rail industry has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons, with the Daily Mirror reporting a significant increase in sexual assaults.That’s why we need a visible presence on trains and stations supported by a fully invested BTP. We also need the full complement of fire and police services restored.

The Southern Rail debacle rumbles on – with emergency timetables, and ministerial resignations, yet some MPs are still trying to blame safety-critical staff by playing the sickness card. We know who we’re sick of!We did write to David Cameron when he suggested, at PMQs, driver sickness had played a part, but we may now be waiting a long time for a retraction or even a response from the former Prime Minister. Rail Minister Claire Perry declined to see us and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is now Conservative Party chairman as Theresa May looks to attract working-class Tories. We have extended the usual courtesies to the incoming minister, Chris Grayling, but are not holding our breath.