OBITUARY: RAY BUCKTON

Raymond William Buxton, trade unionist: born Rillington, Yorkshire 20 October 1922; General Secretary, Aslef 1970-87; member, TUC General Council, 1973-86, chairman 1983-84; married 1954 Barbara Langfield (two sons); died Albufeira, Portugal 7 May 1995.

If there has been a sea change - and there certainly has - in the attitude of many on the Left towards civil nuclear power, it must be traced to the activity of Tusne (Trade Unions for Safe Nuclear Energy), writes Tam Dalyell. Along with the chairman of Tusne, Bill Morgan, of the Engineering Workers Union, and Gordon Lee, of the TUC, Ray Buckton was a moving spirit in Tusne. Moreover, Buckton brought to Tusne's cause impeccable left-wing credentials not only as a celebrated Aslef leader but as the most stalwart friend of the miners in their various hours of need in the 1970s and 1980s.

For six years at Blackpool and Brighton Ray Buckton, Gavin Laird, Jim Mowat, representing the transport workers, and I have shared a Tusne Sunday morning fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference. Last October Buckton, gallant in obvious pain, described how in hospital he had been taken by nurses to see "piles of radioactive waste - far less care is taken in hospital of radioactive substances than in the nuclear industry".

Buckton had made himself a real expert on hazardous materials and was for 15 years a member of the Dangerous Substances Advisory Committee. He was one of the founders of the Council for Transport of Radioactive Materials.

Sir Richard Morris, chairman of Nirex, told me: "Ray was far more than a token trade-union figure on the Nirex board. He was wise, useful, and brave and the British nuclear industry owes a very great deal to Ray Buckton's good sense and guts."

Buckton was the champion of several unpopular causes in transport and industry, which partly on account of his courageous espousal came to be seen widely as valid causes. Ray Buckton could alter other people's perspectives.

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