ASLEF at Labour conference Sunday

28 September 2015

A busy day for ASLEF delegates – Mick Whelan, general secretary; Tosh McDonald, EC president; Graham Ibbetson of Wigan branch; and Alan Moir of Polmadie – at the Labour Party conference in Brighton. As well as attending the plenary sessions in the conference hall, our delegates, and ASLEF activists attending as visitors – Simon Weller, national organiser; executive committee members Marz Colombini and Howard Kaye; district organizer Colin Smith; and Debbie Reay of Northern Line North and Karen Tilley of West London Electric – were busy at a raft of fringe meetings and events arranged in and around the Brighton Centre.

Mick, speaking from the platform at a packed Action for Rail fringe held in the Tudor Room of the Old Ship Hotel on the seafront, said: ‘The Labour Party has been opposed for 20 years to the policy of privatisation that the Tories brought in; we are only calling on them to carry out what is, already, official Labour Party policy. Because privatisation is a policy that has utterly failed. John Major said privatisation would drive competition which, in turn, would drive cheaper fares. But fares have soared and are now the highest in Europe. They said it would also drive investment. But the major investment has come from the government. All that taxpayers’ investment is now about to be wasted by the government by privatising Network Rail – and there are serious safety complications in that – which is why I think we must not give away what we already have. Population growth, and GDP, not privatisation, are responsible for the greater numbers on the railways. We have to take control of what we want. Which is a publicly funded, publicly controlled, railway run as a public service and not for private profit. We want to look forward, not back. That’s why all this talk of British Rail is a canard. It’s not about curled ham sandwiches. And it’s not about under investment. So let’s talk about the public investment in all those private profits.’

Alan Moir, speaking from the floor, warned delegates not to think the SNP are to the left of Labour. He said: ‘The Tartan Tories are alive and well and in action on franchising in Scotland.’

Mick also spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting on developing Labour Party policy together. Mick made the point that the United States, as the principal sponsor of Israel, is the key player in the future of that part of the Middle East.

Mick, Simon, Marz, Howard, Colin, Debbie, and Collette Gibson, of Paddington branch, here as a delegate for Braintree CLP, attended a Hope Not Hate meeting in the evening. Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror praised ASLEF for our help in fighting fascists, and racists, in Britain and ‘for offering hope, not hate, to everyone in this country.’

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