ED BALLS threw away hundreds of thousands of votes yesterday by insisting that Labour would not renationalise the railways.
The shadow chancellor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Labour would give publicly owned franchises a chance to bid but nothing else.
“I don't want to go back to the nationalisation of the 1970s,” he said. “I don’t think we want to go back to the British Rail of the ’70s.
“In East Coast a public operator has been dong a good job. We’re happy for private (firms) and East Coast to bid.
“Let's have a competitive process on a level playing field but without ideology. We’re not going to say this is about nationalisation or privatisation.”
But rail union RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said Mr Balls was wasting a perfect chance to improve Britain’s railways and boost Labour’s poll chances.
“The cop-out by Ed Balls on the fundamental question of public ownership of our railways just lights up the yawning chasm between the political class and the general public.
“Polling shows massive majorities for ending the private racketeering on our railways and yet Labour refuses to stand up for those millions of passengers being robbed blind and no doubt it will knock lumps out of their vote at the election next year.
“Ed Balls showed again that the Labour leadership lack any connection with working people and displayed a complete absence of bottle when it comes to taking on the train companies and their Tory allies.”