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I’m proud to stand on picket lines, Labour’s Ian Mearns tells RMT conference

Leftwinger slams ‘policy vacuum’ from Sir Keir Starmer as he voices solidarity with rail strikes

LABOUR MP Ian Mearns declared his total support for RMT strike action on railways during an address to the union’s annual general meeting in Birmingham yesterday.

Mr Mearns, who chairs the RMT parliamentary group, said he was proud to join picket lines during the strikes last week and chided Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for ditching the pledges he was elected on.

“Along with other group members in Parliament, I was on the picket lines at Victoria, at Gateshead depot and the signal box at Newcastle Central Station, where I was joined by the new leader of Newcastle City Council and on another occasion by North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and a certain Jeremy Corbyn MP, and it was clear to see that the support from passers-by is being reflected in wider support in the country. 

“That’s because your members’ actions chime with where people are: struggling to make ends meet and angry that they are being asked to a pay the price for various crises that are not of their making.

“Last week it seems as though the Labour leader abandoned in its entirety the commitments made in the 2019 election manifesto, announcing a policy ‘clean sheet.’  

“The Labour front-bench position, it would seem, is now a policy vacuum.”

He praised RMT leader Mick Lynch’s “magnificent” performance in the media and for pursuing the RMT campaign for job security and a decent pay rise on the railways.

“Mick Lynch has been nothing short of excellent at exposing the lies and misdirection by the government and in the media, putting Tory spokespersons back in their box, humbling pundits and commentators alike, and is a shining example of what can be achieved by simple, honest and direct communication with the people of the country,” said Mr Mearns. 

“There are many across our movement and on the wider left who could learn from Mick.”

Looking ahead to kicking the Tories out of power, the Gateshead MP said: “The scale of the challenges we face are so great, the needs of the people who rely on us so massive, that we need to convince people that we can make things so much better, not merely managing but changing the system to truly benefit the many, not the few.”

Mr Mearns also paid tribute to RMT national executive committee member Joe Kirby, who tragically died a few weeks ago at the age of 39.

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