Apparently ‘red’ Ed Miliband, the man the media told us was beholding to his trade union masters for winning the Labour Party leadership election, is now been heralded by the very same voices for speaking out against public sector strikes.
The strikes, Ed tells us, are ‘a mistake’, The trade unions, says Ed, should instead sit around the negotiating table and talk until they are blue in the mouth to the likes of the fat owl Alexander who has already announced the outcome of the negotiations. Failure to do so, says Ed, means that teachers and civil servants will lose public sympathy for their case. Writing on his blog, Ed says…
“The Labour Party I lead will always be the party of the parent trying to get their children to school, the mother and father who know the value of a day’s education.
I understand why teachers are so angry with the government. But I urge them to think about whether causing disruption in the classroom will help people understand their arguments. You do not win public backing for an argument about pensions by inconveniencing the public – especially not while negotiations are ongoing.”
Fortunately, the trade unions are going to pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to the patronising advice from Ed. They already know that their action will not make them universally popular, but it is an industrial dispute between them and their employers about the living standards of their members, not the bloody X Factor.
Someone commented when Ed beat his brother David with the support of trade unionist votes that the Labour left would regret it most. If David had won he would have wanted to prove to the trade union movement that he could appeal to them too. Ed, on the other hand, needs to demonstrate that he is not in the pocket of the unions.
Ed Miliband’s comments have nothing to do with being the ‘party of the parents’ and everything to do with reaching out to what he calls the squeezed middle, the votes of the few hundred thousand people in the South of England who carry the swing seats that will decide the next election. If that means looking tough on the unions, immigrants, benefit claimants or anyone else the Daily Mail wants to bash around, then so be it.
That is his prerogative, but trying to out-Tory the Tories by condemning the strikers doesn’t make Miliband look strong as he must have been hoping, it just makes him look weak.