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Aslef rejects Labour disaffiliation

MEMBERS of train drivers’ union Aslef backed continued affiliation to the Labour Party today.

On the opening day of the union’s 2022 conference in Bournemouth, delegates overwhelmingly voted by 74 votes to 9 against a motion to sever Aslef’s official ties with the party, which go back more than a century.

The proposition had been pushed by leftwingers disillusioned by party leader Sir Keir Starmer, Scottish members keen to build closer ties with the SNP and some on the right of the union who do not usually vote Labour, but it failed.

General secretary Mick Whelan, who is a member of the party’s national executive committee, said: “Aslef is a democratic organisation and our members voted to continue to affiliate. That is the wish of our members and that is what we will do.

“It is clear, though, that there is a measure of disquiet with the direction of travel of the party and I hope that the Labour leadership will listen to what some of the speakers said.”

Mr Whelan, who is also chair of Labour Unions, which represents all the unions affiliated to the party, welcomed a pledge by shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh to bring the railways back into public ownership, saying it is the “message our members — and the travelling public — wanted to hear.”

He said: “We will continue to talk to the government, the opposition and MPs from all parties to represent our members and persuade politicians of the value of investing in Britain’s railways.

“We are Aslef and we do not run away. We have a plan for the future of the railways — no-one else is going to do it.

“We have a two-party system. The only game in town for working people and their families is if we stay with the party.”

The vote came after Fire Brigades Union members rejected disaffiliation last week, but many condemned Sir Keir for orchestrating the “biggest witch-hunt against left wingers in the union’s history.”

Bakers’ union BFAWU voted to leave the fold in September 2021, citing a “factional internal war” waged by the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, who was elected leader in April 2020. 


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