Solidarity spoke to Robyn Fortescue, from the Darlington Labor party branch

The rank-and-file members within the party have always been opposed to privatisation and it’s not just, as Iemma is trying to present it, some sort of old fashioned and emotional response. People understand what the costs and consequences are of privatisation-what’s happened in the UK, where there’s been a narrowing down of who owns power. You’ve had people die in the cold weather because they can’t pay the power bills and they’ve been cut off. We believe that essential services [should] to be kept in government hands.

Rank and file members have been phoning their local ALP representatives. They’ve been sending letters to them, taking delegations of their branches or their SECs [State Electoral Councils] to meet with ministers and back benchers to say to them they expect them to vote against any privatisation. The members have been vocal in this. Out of resolutions that went up to conference from branches there was only one branch that was in favour of privatisation.

People are angry that the parliamentary wing think they are separate from the party and its platform. They’re not-the platform says that there can be no sell off of assets like electricity without the agreement of conference.

There’s pressure coming back to [MPs] from the branches with a very simple message: don’t expect to be supported if you vote to sell off electricity. That’s how people feel: they will not support any parliamentarians who betray them in this way.

There’s certainly the mood there [to keep fighting]. People are not giving up, they are not backing down on this. There’ll be pressure through the branches on the MPs, [and] there’s a meeting of the power delegates union on Thursday. But there’s also calls through unions who aren’t in the power industry [that] want to be involved and support the power workers.

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