My reply to Ed Miliband’s position on the strikes today….
Like many Labour members,today, I will be supporting the teachers in their industrial action over pension reform. Our leader however, does not agree, writing on his blog he urges the unions to ‘think again’. Some truly shameful rhetorical flourishes are meant to effectively emotionally blackmail the unions into not striking. Ed writes:
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.
As if teachers don’t care about the pupils they teach, the work they do. This is clearly what Ed is implying and he should be actually ashamed of himself and Labour should be ashamed of it’s leader uttering such words. I think its totally fair to say they will care much more than any politician could ever possibly imagine or comprehend. He says that strikes are a sign of ‘failure’ which they are, they mean the negotiations he calls for have failed, that the gap between the two sides is too wide and therefore industrial action has been taken as a last resort.
The reality is that the government has no interest in negotiation and this is what has provoked this conflict. David Cameron has said time and time again that the pension reforms are “fair” and therefore by implication the problem is the unions position. What kind of a negotiation is that – one where one side says ‘I’m right, your wrong, deal with it’. This isn’t a negotiation – its a fait accompli something that Miliband actually nods too in his blog:
“This government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner.”
So, what is Miliband actually advocating the unions do other than lie down and accept the government imposing these reforms? This is the essential paradox of his position. He obviously believes the right to strike is a theoretical right only which should never be exercised because if it is your only responding to ‘provocation’. Most reasonable people accept that there is only a certain amount of provocation that can be taken until retaliation becomes inevitable and justified and in the actions of not just Cameron but Michael ‘On the picket line’ Gove and Danny ‘loose lips’ Alexander we have long passed the tolerance level most people would have for being trampled all-over. Labour exists to represent the down-trodden, to give a voice to the voiceless – it’s just a shame our leader seems so utterly incapable of doing this. Many people will be angry with Ed Miliband, rightly so, but there is another Labour Party and that Labour Party will stand proud with the teachers on Thursday, in solidarity this is the real Labour Party, the one Ed is failing to represent and lead.