18 August 2005

Theresa May returns to transport in Michael Howard’s recent Conservative Party reshuffle.


Theresa May has responsibility for transport and the environment at shadow cabinet level, but she will delegate certain business to the new shadow secretary of state for transport, Damian Green.


As Shadow Transport Minister under Ian Duncan Smith, Theresa May became famous for vociferously attacking Steven Byers over the issue of Railtrack.


On 13 November 2001, she called for the Secretary of State Steven Byers to resign his post before further damage was inflicted on the Government"s reputation.


Ms May accused Mr Byers of ‘driving the company to the wall’ in order to mitigate any payment to shareowners, and called for a vote of no confidence in Mr Byers


Not uncharacteristic of the Tories ‘let’s forget our mistake and blame someone else’ tactic (remember the Dome fiasco), a full-blown attack was inflicted on Byers for his attempt to remedy the problems created by Majors government. The Tories used the debate as a smokescreen – they are rightly ashamed of their record. They set up Railtrack and deafened Railtrack Directors to the bitter end. It shows just how out of touch the Tories were and remains so.


Ms May went on to accuse the Secretary of State of a breathtaking sleight of hand that dealt a ‘savage blow to future improvements in the railways, left railway workers robbed of their life savings and damaged the Government"s credibility’.


If memory serves us right, was it not the Conservative government who placed the industry into an unworkable situation when they privatised the network?


They under-invested in the rail system for nearly 20 years before introducing an unpopular and deeply flawed privatisation. Since its inception Railtrack was bedevilled with problems, not least bad management.

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