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ASLEF president Tosh McDonald urged Labour MPs to get behind leader Jeremy Corbyn in a barnstorming speech at the train drivers’ union conference in Liverpool today.
Mr McDonald was making his last address as president as he steps down from the executive committee at the end of this year and retires from the railways shortly afterwards.
He told delegates: “It’s been a busy and challenging year, but then every one of the 14 years I’ve been on the EC has been busy and challenging.
“I started on the railway in 1979, just a month after [prime minister Margaret] Thatcher was elected — I hated her then and I still hate her today — then we had Major, who privatised the railway, and I disliked him intensely, too, then Cameron and now May, and they are all the same: they are there to do us in.
“The Tory Party is the most successful class-based political party in history. They look after the bosses. They are not there to represent us.”
Turning his attention to the Labour Party, to which Aslef is affiliated, he said: “For a long while we had a party that didn’t look after us. It got lost. But this is the best cabinet — or shadow cabinet — I have ever seen.
“Under Labour, with Corbyn and company, we will bring the railways back into public ownership. And we will enshrine, in law, the rights of the workers.
“That’s why the whole party needs to get behind the party — and the manifesto on which we fought the last election — and if there are some who can’t, then they should, as [Unite union leader] Len McCluskey said the other day, shove it where the sun don’t shine.”
Mr McDonald, who is standing for Labour in a Doncaster Council by-election in the Town ward later this month, added: “Aslef is doing today what this union has been doing since it was formed, in Leeds, in 1880.
“Fighting for our members’ terms and conditions. Fighting for our members’ jobs. And fighting for our members’ pensions. It’s what we’ve been doing for 138 years.”
He signed off his valedictory address with a rallying call for members to “build a better world, for the many, not the few” to a standing ovation.
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