ASLEF GS tells Labour to respect democratic decisions on rail

28 September 2005

ASLEF General Secretary Keith Norman has told the Labour Party that the government affronts democracy when it ignores conference policies decided by a free democratic vote. 

Keith Norman was one of the first floor speakers at this year’s Labour Party conference when he was called into Sunday’s debate on transport issues.

Delegates were discussing the section of the Party’s annual report on ‘Sustainable Communities’ when Keith made a powerful – and popular – call for conference decisions to be respected and accepted by government. He insisted that politicians should remember that they are not somehow independent of the Labour Party: without it they would not be in positions of power.

‘If it is good enough for me - as General Secretary of my union - to carry out conference decisions, then it is good enough for the Labour Party as well,’ Keith declared.

‘Democracy is under threat if the government feels free to ignore issues debated and carried on the floor of conference.

‘What the point of having a conference if decisions that are democratically taken are ignored?

‘Last year this conference voted conclusively in favour of taking our railway industry back into public ownership,’ Keith said. ‘We showed them not just why, but how. And they chose to ignore us completely.’

Keith says that Labour’s conference has a right to deserve the respect of every government minister – each of whom owed their position entirely to the party of which they are members.

The intervention was seen as an early embarrassment to the government – but Keith is characteristically and entirely unrepentant. ‘I don’t want to criticise my party,’ he says, ‘I just want it to carry out democratic decisions as best it can. Surely that’s not too much to ask?’

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