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Andy Burnham’s policy on railway ownership is too weak

railwaysI like Andy Burnham: he clearly has been on a political journey and he has played a good role on the NHS, but in my view his position on rail policy today not only doesn’t go far enough – it indicates the disconnect between voters and Westminster politics that we must repair.

In the National Policy Forum process last year, Labour agreed a new deal for the railways. This included a commitment to allow a public sector operator to take on franchises and challenge the train operators on a level playing field in the public interest. This was the basis of our position at the election.

I welcomed this as at least a step forward from the years of consensus that the public sector was not permitted to run our railways – but I also, like many others, believed it did not go far enough and crucially was not clear enough for people to relate to and understand.

It now seems this debate is back. Jeremy Corbyn has made clear that his policy is that as each franchise expires, each line should be taken into public ownership.  Coverage today now suggests that Andy Burnham favours ‘progressive nationalisation’ – but there is small print to be read. In a tweet last night, Andy clarified that his position was to ‘wait for franchises to expire then let public sector bid.’ This seems to be essentially the existing Labour position – but if anything the bidding language is less strong than ‘legislating to allow a public sector operator to be able to take on lines’ as Labour agreed at the NPF last year. Certainly it essentially retains the right of the private sector to bid and inherently permits the private sector to win a franchise. This rail bids policy is too weak both as a political message and as transport policy per se.

Such a position, if correctly stated in Andy’s tweet, means three things: one, a costly bidding process that forces the publicly owned rail operator – and therefore the taxpayer – to waste public money on bidding for franchises. Two, it by definition means that the private sector may win bids. And three, that in turn means that it is not possible to guarantee a fully-integrated publicly-owned rail network.

The problem is obvious. It doesn’t sufficiently fly. With this policy Labour would appear unclear and unable to answer questions in a straightforward way. This was the problem with the policy at the last general election: it was a step forward but it appeared to fall short and was hard to sell.

More than anything Labour needs a clear story to tell and the public need to understand us better. We also need to find ways to connect to them directly. Polls consistently show voters want change on rail policy – a November 2013 YouGov poll for example found 73 per cent of UKIP voters back publicly-owned rail. It is also a key part of making progress in Scotland – a November 2014 Survation poll found 27 per cent of SNP voters would be more likely to vote Labour if we committed to publicly owned Scottish rail services.

This is why Jeremy Corbyn has connected with the public and why he is the best candidate to unite Labour after the leadership campaign and to take us forward to win in 2020. He stands for clear, understandable positions and he will help us speak more directly to voters we have lost – to those how have switched to the SNP, to UKIP and to those more generally who believe we have lost our way.

Sad to say Andy’s policy on bidding for franchises on the railways points to a wider problem. Anyone other than Jeremy will take us into another five years of nearly-but-not-quite positions.  All the candidates have their merits, and we are all Labour, but the railways show Jeremy is the one who will make Labour a winning party once more.


  1. swatantra says:

    Fair’s fair Ken; you wait for one Rail policy, then 3 come along all at once.

  2. John P Reid says:

    This is beaten.ty trying to stop beunham as Ken feels he’s the in,y one to beat Corbyn, yet livingstine has never shown any loyalty to the Labour Party,so why should the Labour Party listen too him, surprised Christine Shawcrofts expulsion hasn’t been suggested to Corbyn by livingstine to be repealed

  3. Billericaydickie says:

    Ken, it was people like you that made me leave Labour in disgust. You played the identity political route of pandering to the worst in ethnic minorities and payed the price but so did Labour in London and I know from Labour friends in other parts of the country that they suffered the knock on effect.

    Your public support and walk abouts with that political shyster and crook Lutfur Rahman damaged Labour even more than your employment of Lee Jasper and his merry band of fraudsters. The voters of London who supported you through the GLC and your first two terms as mayor turned against you and you still don’t know why.

    Your political posturing over oil from Venezuela, London embassies, millions of pounds to non existent black groups and all of the other nonsense that brought down your regime have turned a generation and their children of the white working class against you and Labour.

    You are Labour’s worst nightmare, go away.

    1. Gary Brooke says:

      I believe that Ken is writing about Andy Burnham’s policy on railways. You could try addressing that.

      1. Matty says:

        Just a reminder that Billericaydickie (Terry Fitzpatrick) has a criminal record for racially-aggravated harassment. I think he must have left Labour a long time ago.

        1. Billericaydickie says:

          You are still confused Matty, are you the former Labour councillor from Greenwich? I am me and Terry Fitzpatrick is someone else. Doesn’t take a lot of working out. Perhaps you could tell us why you think I am he.

          Actually I saw him on the last of the excellent series The Secret History of Our Streets about the Bangladeshi squatting movement against the racist housing policies of the GLC of which Ken was a Labour member at the time. It seems he is highly regarded by that community. I’ll give some links as you are interested.

          1. John P Reid says:

            Whether Billericky Dickie is Terry Fitz, I think he is,and that was only because he walked into That anti white racist Lee Jaspers trap, it doesn’t exclude the fact that livingstone surrounds himself with anti Semitic, sexist homophobic hate preachers.

          2. Matty says:

            “The court result came as no surprise to me; I had seen the ugly side of Fitzpatrick – and his troll-like internet alter-egos billericaydicky and terryfitz – over many years.”

          3. Billericaydickie says:

            As I see replies on this are now disabled I’ll see if I can get this one in as I think the subject is important to understand why Livingstone lost twice in London. Labour has actually done well over the last ten years or so even fighting against the Livingstone legacy.

            Livingstone lost the support of his traditional white working class base . The white working class is a description that couldn’t have been even mentioned five or six years ago as it would have been racist. Now it’s everywhere and the concerns and voting patterns of the group are scrutinised by think tanks everywhere.

            This is the recognition of how far Labour has gone in the eyes of its traditional voter and member base in moving away from their concerns. The other proof of this is the four million UKIP voters in the last election most of whom were traditionally Labour. You may mock, or rather despise, their preoccupations with issues that that you perceive to be xenophobic or racist but always remember they have the vote and are using it.

            Livingstone thought that he could ignore that section of the electorate and paid the price, twice. There were other issues, his obvious anti semitism, the whisky at mayor’s question time, embassies around the world, oil cosying up to third world dictators but it was his perceived bias towards ethnic minorities that sank him.

            I remember the pathetic apology for slavery where he broke down and cried crocodile tears and was comforted by the Rev Jesse Jackson, what a pair they made. For me that was the end of him. He lost the votes of everyone I know and these were people who had been lifelong Labour supporters.

            Any campaign that involves Livingstone is tainted with those GLA years, it’s the older voters that remember these things and icreasingly they are the ones that turn out to vote most consistently.

            And finally folks, some reading. and look at the section that sats downloadable documents or some such. Loads of stuff on the East End of London.

            Also Google Mala Sen and read the Guardian obituary. And finally, I wouldn’t take Operation Black Vote as an authority on anything. They managed to get rid of £320 000 of Londoners money through something called Black Londoners Forum. Andrew Gilligan has the details.

        2. Billericaydickie says:

          He’s at Talk to him yourselves, I’m sure he will reply and, possibly as well, want to have a chat with with you all. Why not get in touch?

  4. Robert says:

    A clear narrative would be better then a clear Story, or better still a clear set of policies the problem is a lot of what labour has been telling us of late can be seen as Stories or better still fairy tales.

  5. Billericaydickie says:

    Should be

  6. gerry says:

    Here we go again: the Matty vs BillericayDickie show! Is he or isn’t he? Who do you say you are (to quote the Spice Girls)? Matty – nobody cares! Deal with what people say, not who they are…simple really: and stop trying to silence people on this site, JP Craig Weston, David Ellis, Swatantra, BillericayDickie all have strong Marmite views, but that’s OK, most of us are grownups and can handle hearing them.

    1. John P Reid says:

      Fitz must have Been annoyed when a cop was cleared of using the N word as this black kid he arrested kept using the N word to describe himself,saying he wanted to be called it baring in mind, that Jasper was happy to call himself that word before,and Jasper got the hump when the cop was cleared twice saying their should keep being retrials till the cop was found guilty,

      1. Billericaydickie says:

        In English, John P Reid.

    2. Matty says:

      “nobody cares!” – you don’t care you mean. I think people have the right to know who they are dealing with in this case.

      1. gerry says:

        Matty – as the great James Martin said: play the ball not the person! Or maybe you and BillericayDickie should just get a room (help, you have dragged me down to your level!!!)?

        1. Matty says:

          I agree with the thrust of your argument but sometimes there are lines to be drawn. Terry Fitzpatrick is a racist and I think that undermines his credibility as a fair commentator on Labour issues. He did the same at Socialist Unity eg a story about a whole pub full of people shouting at the landlord to turn off the TV because Ken Livingstone was on. I also happen to know that he has threatened people with violence (though those comments get deleted pronto eg on Soc Unity he published his phone no so people could phone him to arrange for a punch-up). So, all I am doing is providing a little background info that will assist people to assess his credibility.

          1. gerry says:

            Matty – being serious, I appreciate your reply. I don’t know anything this person and Socialist Unity, and if he did give out his phone number to “have a fight” then those are the actions of a pretty disturbed individual.

            BillericayDickie on this site, as far as I have read, hasn’t written anything racist or threatened violence or offered anyone out, and if he did, then the moderators should delete/block him for that alone.

            Overall we should give whoever he is the benefit of the doubt – and I want to read everyone’s comments, yours, his, John P Reid’s, Mukkinese, the diversity is why this site is actually much better than other left leaning sites.

            So Matty youve drawn our attention again to this conviction – if this is Terry Fitzpatrick then the only loser is him, stuck in a crazy cycle of anger against Ken, Lee Jasper, Operation Black Vote. Sad and self defeating – and as I said I am no fan of Lee Jasper (but still have time for Ken, given his 1980s work)

            But I hope you and I and everyone else can move on and debate the real stuff – our party’s future and how we can reconvince our fellow voters given that 31 million of them didn’t give us their vote in May!

    3. Billericaydickie says:

      Yes, exactly. Matty needs to get a life! Or not? And what the fuck is a Marmite view when it’s at home?

      1. John P Reid says:

        Marmite, you either love it or hate it.As for whether so wine is. Racist so shouldn’t comment on Labour issues,is it cimvicted racists, that shouldn’t comment, as everyone from David Blunkett,Roy Hattersley, Ken livingstone too Trevor Philips have been accused of racism.

        1. John P Reid says:

          Obviously so wine was supposed to be someone

          Just to clarify, those accused of racism, I mentioned I don’t believe are,

        2. gerry says:

          John – cheers, I maybe shouldn’t have used terms like Marmite as not everyone knows what it means….And I don’t find your views “Marmite” though I agree with you (on the EU, immigration, working class voters etc) as much as I disagree with you ( on unions, Liz Kendall, CLPD)! Its a strength that we are in the same party.

          1. John P Reid says:

            Jus to point out, Hatersley was accused of racism, for referring to the Asian electorate of his cinatueuncy as his people, Blunkett when home sec

            And Livungatine and Trevor Philips both accused each other of racism, over Ken offering Trevor a job, bacuse Trev is BME and then Ken said Trev was racist for denouncing multiculturalism, and should join the

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