ASLEF is the first trade union to call for ‘regime change’, a change in the leadership of the Labour government if it continues to refuse to carry out the policy of the Labour Party which is to renationalise the railways.
Welcoming the return of ‘an historic third term Labour government’, ASLEF president Alan Donnelly told its conference: ‘This is an historic opportunity to take the rail industry back into public ownership and public accountability and create social justice for the people of this nation.’
Calling for changes in government policy ‘that reflect the real needs of ASLEF members and workers in general,’ Alan Donnelly said: ‘If that change does not occur then there has to be a leadership change.’
He added: ‘ASLEF does not want to run the country, it just wants the country to run.’
National officer Andy Reed said ASLEF members were ‘absolutely furious’ that the Labour Party conference decision had not been acted on.
The ASLEF call made by its president was a response to this fury.
The government has opted to continue to subsidise the rail privateers by handing over billions in subsides of all kinds to them to boost their profits.
It is crystal clear that the Blair-Brown Labour leadership has not the slightest intention of changing course to renationalise the privatised railways.
In fact, Blair has taken great pride in stressing that his third term will be marked by speeding up the government’s privatisation offensive, so as to make the changes irreversible.
ASLEF is the first union to make the call for regime change if Blair and Brown will not renationalise.
It will clearly not be the last such call made at the trade union annual conferences that take place throughout the summer months, culminating with September’s TUC.
However, much more than militant declarations will be required to effect a regime change that will see the railways renationalised.
Action will be required and not just by the ASLEF trade union.
The railways have been privatised, the London tube network is being privatised, and the NHS and education are facing the speeding up of the same privatisation offensive.
ASLEF must take the initiative in forming an anti-privatisation action alliance amongst the major trade unions, including the RMT, UNISON, the NUT, Amicus, the TGWU and the GMB.
This must tell the Blair-Brown leadership that the railways must be renationalised, and the entire privatisation offensive halted.
The trade unions must then decide at their annual conferences and at the TUC Congress to call a one day general strike to secure the renationalisation of the railways and the scrapping of the privatisation programme.
The government must be told that if they do not listen to the demands of millions of trade unionists and Labour voters, then the trade unions will go forward to an indefinite general strike to bring down the Blair government, to go forward to a workers’ government that will carry out these socialist policies.
ASLEF ‘does not want to run the country’, but the working class can and must run the country, in the place of a Blair government that has been running it in the interests of the bankers and the bosses, treating the decision of its own party conference, to renationalise the railways, with absolute contempt.
The anger that is building up so rapidly amongst workers and youth over the betrayals of the Blair-Brown government means that organising the working class to go forward to workers’ power and a workers’ government is the only alternative to these betrayals leading to a return of the Tories.