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With Today's Transport Policy Announcement, Jeremy Corbyn Undermined His Colleagues Yet Again

16/08/2016 15:31 | Updated 16 August 2016
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn's announcement on transport policy this morning may trigger uncomfortable memories for hundreds of Labour activists. They are the people who got up at the crack of dawn in January to campaign against the latest Tory rail fare rises to win over the commuters hit by 25% price hikes, and whose votes we need to win back if Labour is to form a government again.

Their efforts were undone when Jeremy launched a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle on the same day: rail fares were knocked off the news bulletins, and months of hard work by Labour Party staff went to waste. Jeremy later claimed that 'choreography of news is not always the easiest thing to achieve,' and that we should have known that a reshuffle was due.

In reality the shambles was entirely avoidable. The rail fares date had been known for months. It was in the Party's media grid. Jeremy and I both joined the protests at King's Cross. I remember the sinking feeling when he confirmed that morning - for the first time - that there would be a reshuffle. A day that should have been about attacking the Tories suddenly descended into a needless media frenzy on Labour's internal divisions.

Today, Jeremy undermined his Labour colleagues in a different way. A press release from his campaign stated that he was making new announcements on bus regulation and rail public ownership - the 'latest policies from Jeremy.' This is categorically untrue.

Every single policy that Jeremy now claims for his own is existing Labour policy. In the case of bus regulation, it has been for half a decade.

To claim otherwise disregards all the hard work of previous Labour frontbenchers, and especially Maria Eagle who saw through the change in the Party's policy on buses during the last Parliament.

I made sure that my first visit as shadow transport secretary was to Newcastle, where I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Labour councillors on Tyne and Wear who faced appalling abuse from the bus companies when they tried to improve local services. I made it clear that Labour would support new municipal bus companies and fight the Tories' senselessly partisan plans to ban them tooth and nail.

The announcement also ignores the contributions of Daniel Zeichner, our brilliant shadow local transport minister, and the Labour peers who are currently doing the heavy lifting on the Bus Services Bill.

It is not the first time that Jeremy and his team have exploited the labours of others for personal gain: my colleague Sharon Hodgson has written about John McDonnell's hijacking of a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities policy launch.

The Labour Party must be a collective endeavour, and I'm afraid that today's claims are symptomatic of Jeremy's approach of claiming all personal credit for years of policy work while denying any individual responsibility for the rise in harassment and abuse since last September.

Tomorrow Jeremy and Owen will debate the future of the Party in Nottingham, where Labour in local government achieved the small miracle of keeping the local bus company under municipal ownership. Nottingham City Transport is now one of the best operators in the country. This model should be replicated elsewhere. But today's announcement underlined my view that only Owen is capable of working with others and beating the Tories in order to make that happen.

Lilian Greenwood is the Labour MP for Nottingham South and former shadow transport secretary

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