Defeat for Labour leaders over rail nationalisation

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Indy Politics

Labour's leadership suffered an embarrassing conference defeat over rail re-nationalisation today.

Labour's leadership suffered an embarrassing conference defeat over rail re-nationalisation today.

The result of a card vote taken yesterday and announced this morning showed overwhelming support for a publicly-owned railway system.

Voting was 63.71 per cent for and 36.29 per cent against, despite pleas from Chancellor Gordon Brown and Transport Secretary Alistair Darling not to attempt to tie the Government's hands.

Mr Brown warned yesterday in his keynote conference speech that re-nationalisation would cost £22 billion.

"If we had £22 billion to spend it will not be for an expensive re-nationalisation. We will put investment into schools and hospitals first," he said.

But the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association denied the move would cost anything.

Moving the rebel amendment yesterday, general secretary Gerry Doherty said franchises would not be renewed when they expired, costing the Treasury nothing.

He dubbed rail privatisation "one of the most blatant bare-faced robberies ever perpetrated on the nation" by the Tories.

In yesterday's stormy debate, Mr Darling was heckled as he urged the conference not to turn its back on £70 million a week of private investment in the railways.

This is the second such setback this week for the leadership. On Sunday a rebel call on council housing transfer policy was backed on a show of hands.

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