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DfTI Speech: Cross-Party Transport Advisory Board Launch
Sir James McCrimmon, Secretary of State for Transport and Infrastructure, is joined outside Great Minster House by his Shadow, Steven Andrews, and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Smith to address the Press. (Approved by Nathan)

Good afternoon. This is not exactly the group of people you expected to see out here today, is it? I’m here today, alongside my Cabinet colleague Grant Smith, and my Shadow Secretary, Steven Andrews to announce the launch of the Cross-Party Transport Advisory Board. All three of us are cognizant of the role that our political system plays in infrastructure funding. As supporters of equitable access to public transport and believers in the importance of the same for combating climate change, we agree that the decisions made over the coming months and years will be vital to furthering the human future on this planet.

With that in mind, we have formed a Cross-Party Transport Advisory Board. Composed of the three of us with staff support from my wonderful DfTI civil servants, we will methodically move from transport system to transport system, setting the basis for government policy for hopefully the next decade. All of us are committed to making decisions that will promote capacity, connectivity, and sustainability across this country, and to funding public transport at a high level of investment. No matter who the Prime Minister is, we believe that Britain deserves stable funding for public transport and this group will be the foundation for that.

We will begin by discussing rail infrastructure and policy, with a specific focus on national high speed rail and will offer updates when appropriate. Thank you.

Andrews steps forward to speak after Sir James has finished his remarks.

Sir James and I have been talking for some time...really, informally, since before the election.  While there will always be differences in many details of policy, it is our hope that we can nail down a consensus on at least some areas of transport policy so there is a framework that we're working within going forward.

I believe that we have all, for example, accepted a need for a shift from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric cars and other renewable alternatives, a shift from air travel to rail travel, and general support for high-speed rail.  Talking over these areas and forming a cross-party consensus...even if we end up disagreeing with one another on numbers and precise priorities...will help reduce the risk of at least one area of policy getting snarled either in the event of another minority situation in parliament, since we're three for four there, after all.

I want to assure my colleagues that this does not mean that the Government won't be held to account in the Commons going forward, but where we can achieve consensus in broad strokes it will do well to get that down so we can move forward in this vital area for Britain.

Smith moves to speak.

I'm pleased to see the Cross-Party Transport Advisory Board begin its work. While politics must remain the contest of ideas, and genuine disagreements between parties must be aired openly and judged by the public, there is also a space, a much underappreciated space, for cross-party work and collaboration.

Transportation is one such area, where to avoid horrendous wastes of money and ensure that investments are as effective and efficient as possible, we need to ensure that projects have a long-term degree of confidence, of trust, that investments made under one government will be honoured under the next. If each government merely cancelled all the projects introduced under another party, nothing would get done. So we need a collaborative approach, a recognition that no one party has a monopoly on good ideas, an understanding that issues like climate change and regional equality require commitments from politicians of all stripes.

I look forward to the work this Committee will do on issues such as rail, air travel, and electric vehicles, in promoting long-term investments in public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure, and in the necessary consultations and deliberations on big infrastructure projects in the years to come.

DfTI Civil Servants hand out leaflets with the following information about the CPTAB’s formation.

The Cross-Party Transport Advisory Board
1. The Cross-Party Transport Advisory Board (CPTAB) will consist of the relevant ministers and shadows from any party that either earns greater than 10% of the Great British vote share in the most recent General Election and/or have MPs in all three nations on the island of Great Britain.
2. The CPTAB shall work on one issue at a time, in an order decided by the Secretary of State for Transport and Infrastructure (the “Secretary”), who will chair the group.
3. The CPTAB shall seek to establish a consensus on various policy issues.
4. All parties represented in the CPTAB shall fund all projects coming out of it in their Budgets and Shadow Budgets.
5. Members of the CPTAB shall conduct discussions under Privy Council terms. The Secretary will inform the media of which topic they are discussing when they change topics.
6. The CPTAB shall focus on the following principles:
a. Improving capacity on public transport.
b. Increasing connectivity on public transport between the various cities and regions of England, Scotland, and Wales.
c. Implementing strategies to reduce emissions caused by transport.
The Rt. Hon. Sir James C. McCrimmon OBE
MP for West Ham (2005-present)
Chairman of the Labour Party (2019-present)
Secretary of State for Transport and Infrastructure (2019-present)

Traits: Campaigning Guru, Backbench Favourite, Media Unknown
(OOC: Confirming my participation for the record)
Well, who doesn't like a bit of cross party cooperation?

I'll let you all in on a secret, though: while, yes, Northern voters get the strong impression they've been undersold and underinvested in, nobody is prepared yet to really care about transport policy. 

Still, this gets all three parties good press. It has the potential for all of you to avoid bad press, if you navigate through this together cooperatively and in good spirits. And maybe even get some good press, too. But it also means none of you would be able to outdo or outmanoeuvre each other on transport policy. Is that in your tactical interest? You decide. 

The Brexit Party is noticeably absent. What I'd point out is if you propose something controversial in future - say a HS2 - you also have the potential to create or strengthen a wave of anti establishment feeling against all your parties too. Tread carefully.

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