Gavin Strang MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party TGWU Group, tonight addressed a meeting organised by the Transport and General Workers’ Union in the Gynn Room, Imperial Hotel, at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool from 8pm.
Speaking in Blackpool tonight, Gavin Strang MP said:
‘Prime Minister Tony Blair made reference yesterday to World War Two. We all know about Britain’s finest hour, standing alone against Germany. But perhaps many people do not realise that our finest hour was not just the work of ‘The Few’ – those brave RAF pilots and crew. Our pilots could only do the job that they did because of the back-up they had on the ground.
‘I want to remind you of the extent to which the current Labour government has deployed forces since 1997. No-one could have predicted that our armed forces would have been involved in the many and diverse situations that they have been – including East Timor, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
‘Was there ever a time when our armed forces were conducting as many concurrent activities abroad as they are now? And if we are going to ask our armed services to risk their lives in the name of our country they must be supported – at home and abroad.
‘We have to ask ourselves – why is the Government looking at privatisation? Nobody believes that it is about recruiting better people who are more able at fighting fires. No, it is driven as all these privatisations are – by financial considerations.
‘I was involved in the fight against the privatisation of Air Traffic Control. The difference here is that every single Opposition Party in the House of Commons is officially opposed to the privatisation of the Defence Fire Services.’
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Notes for editors
- The Ministry of Defence fire services cover 108 operational fire stations and employs over 3000 people in the UK and overseas. The MoD issued an invitation to negotiate to three private consortiums in September 2001 and is currently considering whether to proceed with privatising the Defence Fire Services as part of the Airfield Services Support Project.