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CATP and the London Elections

Oliver New, chair of CATP, explains their intervention in the election.

Could you explain why the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation is standing candidates for the London Assembly?

Standing in an election is a new thing for us. Our union has always been tied to the Labour Party and we have fought our battles as trade unionists. When Prescott announced that the Labour government was to privatise the Tube, we knew we had to have a political campaign as well as industrial. Since then we have been raising the issue in meetings and protests. We have organised three days of strike action which broke through the media silence on the issue.

Prescott's Privatisation Plans (PPP) are rubbish. Nobody supports them except the government and the muppets chosen by Millbank to be the Labour candidates for the Assembly. Even Peter Ford, who was chairman of London Transport until 1998 says that London Transport's own evaluation ranked PPP as fourteenth out of fifteen options. He reckons it will cost 2 billion more than keeping the system intact.

Of course, it will be good for the fat cats. It will be good for the union busters and for those who want to drive down wages. The disjointed pieces of a broken up Tube system would be regulated by contracts, accountants and lawyers. Standards would give way to low prices. No wonder Londoners are against it.

What is the significance of this election, and how do you judge the mood?

We have broken through the press blackout and have won the argument Londoners are overwhelmingly against privatisation. Railtrack has been knocked out. Livingstone has made it his main issue. When we talk to Tube workers and passengers people have no trouble understanding our cause. The Assembly and mayor will be our new bosses and we are fighting to defend ourselves. It's a struggle that will affect real people in the future their pensions, their children. This is an issue that will decide if a public service that is central to London will be run by rich people for their benefit or be accountable to those who have to use it and pay for it. And that is why I am urging people to vote CATP on the list and Livingstone for mayor.