How will Ed react to the teachers strike?

First things first, you have to bear in mind that the principal players in this action are characterised by their distant relationship to Labour. None of the unions participating are actually affiliated to Labour so this gives him more leeway than would normally be the case to simply ignore and maybe even subtly disparage the strike. However, its possible given recent events that the affiliated unions will be watching his response with a keener eye than would otherwise would normally be the case. This is especially true because, as Mike Smithson points out, the specific issue, pensions is potential flashpoint across the public sector.

Incidentally, this shows the inherent weakness of the disaffiliation tactic but that is another story. Concretely, given the mood music currently emanating from the upper echelons and this fact you’d expect a hard-line. Of course, that would be assuming he is capable of taking a ‘strong line’ on anything other than disable benefit claimants. What is more likely, is his stock response to all industrial action will be dragged out, its a ‘failure’ on all sides and there should be negotiations – which kind of ignores the fact that a strike usually ensues when negotiation has  failed (so your actually calling for something that has just failed to deal with the result of its failure). Indeed, this is what he just said on Twitter at the now infamous #AskEdM event. It’s a typical Ed response that doesn’t really answer the question.

Probably as interesting as the response is the cascade effect within the affiliated unions; this will not be immediate but the fact it is that it will harden hearts and will embolden criticism of his leadership – after all, what will it give people to lose? Having said that this issue won’t become critical until an actual affiliated union becomes involved in a long running dispute. It’s never really critical until your actually the ones involved.

When that happens the question will be posed more starkly. Rhetorically, he has positioned Labour against the cuts and also insisted that those lower down the social ladder should not be made to pay but when it comes to supporting action against them will he stand up and be counted. My advice would be to not hold your breath.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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