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EDITIONS
Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Left turns heat on New Labour
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair in the firing line over public services funding
Union leaders and left wing Labour MPs will protest against the privatisation of public services at a meeting on Saturday.

The organisers say their aim is to chart a new way forward for the Labour Party after what they claim is the failure of the policies of New Labour.

Bob Crow, RMT leader
Bob Crow: "I do not know what New Labour means"
The conference entitled 'After New Labour' at the TUC in London comes in a week that saw industrial action by council workers and the London Underground stopping for 24 hours.

The Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs will be joined on the platform by left wing trade union leaders, including Unison's general secretary David Prentis and the leader of the RMT union Bob Crow.

Mr Crow said the conference would bring to the forefront issues concerning workers which had not been addressed by New Labour.

"The point is trying to put policies forward which we believe are in the interests of working people," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I do not know what this word New Labour means."

Mr Prentis is expected to rally support for council workers who have voted to go out again on strike over pay again on 14 August.


There are concerns that some of the policies they (the government) are pursuing... are not being successful for ordinary working people

John McDonnell, Labour MP
Up to a million council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland held their first strike since 1979 on Wednesday.

BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones said the pressure that had been building up for months over the privatisation of public services has given a new edge to the campaign for more money for lower paid workers.

Labour MP John McDonnell, for Hayes and Harlington, told the Today New Labour was not working for ordinary people.

"The government needs to listen to what people are saying on the ground - in local councils, on the tube, in the fire service, in factory after factory," he said.

"There are concerns that some of the policies they are pursuing... are not being successful for ordinary working people."

But Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, defended the government's record.

"New Labour is what is delivering for this country and it is a lot more positive and a lot more productive than these sort of meetings."

Strikes loom

"Bob Crow has his specific industrial constituency. The Labour party has to represent the country not just those people who voted for us," he said.


The Labour Party is what people voted for

Tony Benn, former Labour MP
The conference also coincides with a strike by workers at Manchester Airport.

Members of the Transport and General Workers' Union plan to stage a two-hour strike on Saturday in a long-running row over jobs.

Mick Rix, general secretary of the train driver's union, told BBC Radio 5 Live that many people felt discontented and disillusioned with a Labour Government that they had such high hopes for.

"People want the government to change course and taking a more caring and humanitarian course than it is at the moment," he said.

Council strikes
Unions will rally support for council workers
Former Labour MP Tony Benn, London Mayor Ken Livingstone, MPs Diane Abbott and Dennis Skinner as well as the newly-elected leader of the UK's second largest union Amicus Derek Simpson will be among those attending Saturday's conference.

Mr Benn told the BBC: "New Labour is the smallest political party there's ever been in the history of British politics, but as they're all in the cabinet, they're quite powerful.

"The Labour Party is what people voted for."

The election this week of Mr Simpson over staunch New Labour supporter Sir Ken Jackson was seen as the latest setback for the government in its increasingly strained relations with the unions.

And a showdown at the conference over the government's use of private money in the public sector has been widely predicted.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Shaun Ley
"The title of this conference is provocative and it may seem premature"

Public pay battles

Leadership battles

Labour and the unions

Analysis

FORUM
See also:

20 Jul 02 | UK Politics
18 Jul 02 | UK Politics
18 Jul 02 | UK Politics
15 Mar 02 | Business
15 Mar 02 | UK Politics
12 Mar 02 | UK Politics
12 Mar 02 | UK Politics
12 Mar 02 | UK Politics
05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
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