LETTER : No U-turn and no gravy train

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The Independent Online
From Ms Clare Short

Sir: Your story "Labour in U-turn over new transport policy" (26 October) was false from start to finish. I am astonished that your correspondent did not contact me to find out the truth.

I have inherited a draft transport policy document from Michael Meacher's team. It was to have gone to our policy forum for consultation in November. I decided, before I read it, that we should take a little longer and produce a policy document rather than a consultation.

I have now read the draft. It is useful but needs more work. It does not deal with rail privatisation. The view from John Smith House is that the content is good but the presentation weak. The view from Tony Blair's office is that it is a good draft that needs a lot more work.

On rail privatisation, there is absolutely no doubt, we believe the railways must be in public ownership. We intend to do all we can to slow down and prevent the privatisation. But whatever stage is reached we will ensure the railways are in public ownership. This is why we are warning anyone who is thinking of bidding for parts of the system that they should be clear of Labour's intention and that there will be no gravy train this time.

Yours sincerely,

Clare Short

MP for Birmingham Ladywood

(Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

26 October

The writer is the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.

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