On the eve of Labour’s National Policy Forum in Milton Keynes, rail union RMT, which was expelled from the party in 2004, has produced concrete evidence that public ownership of the railways is going to be a decisive factor at the polls in 2015.
An independent survey of voters in key marginal commuter seats on behalf of RMT has revealed that Labour’s continued refusal to back outright public ownership of the railways, expected to be reinforced at the Policy Forum this weekend, could be the decisive factor that costs it victory in next year’s General Election.
On behalf of the RMT respected polling outfit Survation polled 1011 constituents by telephone in 4 key marginal Conservative/Labour “battleground” seats essential for Labour to win in the pursuit of an overall 2015 majority.
Seats selected were Crawley (CON), Stevenage (CON), Reading West (CON) and Milton Keynes South (CON).
The findings show that not only is public support for public ownership solidly supported across the political spectrum but that in the key seats surveyed it could prove decisive next year. The key points from the polling are:
* Adopting a policy of public ownership of the railways would have clear electoral benefits in marginal commuter seats. A quarter of Tory voters in key marginal would be somewhat likelier to switch parties on this issue
* Voters reject private rail franchise operators in key Conservative held 2015 battleground seats required for a Labour majority
* A clear majority of Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP voters reject the current status quo based on rising fare prices and would expect a better service under public ownership
* Almost one half of Conservative 2010 voters would bring their local rail operator back under public ownership at the next opportunity. 74% of current UKIP voters support public ownership of the railways.
* Over a quarter of current conservative voters in key electoral battleground seats are likely to switch to a party that supports public ownerhip of rail.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:
"We have only seen vague reports so far on these suggested Labour rail franchising plans but what we have seen looks like a total cop out.
"Let's be clear , RMT wants to see the entire rail network taken back into public ownership, closing the door on two decades of greed and exploitation. That position is supported overwhelmingly by the British people.
"No doubt the wealthy train companies would use their cash piles to rig any changes to the franchising system in their favour. The only workable solution is to take the whole lot back under public control full stop. "
Mick Cash added;
“RMT intends to make public ownership of our railways a major issue at next year’s General Election and the message to Labour from this polling could not be clearer – if you continue to drag your heels on this issue you risk getting smashed in the key battleground seats.
“The only rock solid support for the continuing rip off of rail privatisation lies with the poisonous combination of big business and their political allies while the people who use and work in the transport system are sick and tired of two decades of racketeering.
“The polling shows once again that the political class are out of touch and out of step with the voters and that they ignore the issue of our railways, and who runs them, at their peril.”