Here is the text of the speech I would have given if I had managed to catch the eye of the chair in today’s debate on Transport at Scottish labour conference:
Chair, Conference Thank you. John Ruddy, Angus CLP and first time speaker at conference.
I just want to say a few words about the SNP’s Rail Consultation which closed a couple of weeks ago. Scottish Labour led a brilliant campaign to send the SNP the message that Scotland loves its trains, but we shouldn’t let them get away so easily.
Alex Neill and Keith Brown signed that Forward which told us how great the consultation was, and how it would “attune the railway to Scotland’s needs”. When we pointed out that the consultation wanted to close stations they denied it was anything to do with them!
Conference, either they hadn’t read the consultation properly and are incompetent, or they are lying and should resign.
Just a few miles up the line from here in Angus, are two of the most underused stations in Scotland, Golf Street and Barry Links. Less than 300 people use them both. That’s hardly surprising when they get just one train a day – even less surprising when you hear that they get a train to Dundee at 6am in the morning and then one back at 7pm in the evening! What’s really surprising is how many people actually use such a poor service!
Conference, the answer to underused stations like these is not to close them, but to give them the service they need to serve our communities. I know that our comrades in Aberdeenshire are trying to do just that with another underused station in Portlethen.
So let me tell you right now, Keith Brown – you try to close any station in Angus, and you’ll have me and Scottish Labour to contend with!
I think it would have gone down well!