Miliband deserts strikers as Gove goes on warpath

Gove: 'They want families to be inconvenienced.'
Gove: 'They want families to be inconvenienced.'

By Ian Dunt

Striking public sector workers were struggling to receive any support in Westminster today as Ed Miliband branded the action "a failure".

The comment came on the same day as Michael Gove issued a dramatic attack on trade unions, saying their leaders "want" families to be inconvenienced.

"They want mothers to give up a day's work, or pay for expensive childcare, because schools will be closed," the education secretary said.

During a series of questions and answers after his speech, Mr Gove said: "You have only got to look at the words of [Unite leader] Len McCluskey in the Guardian today, consider the conduct of Mark Serwotka [general secretary of the PCS union] throughout this dispute or look at the political record of Mr Andrew Murray, who is a lead official in Unite, to recognise that 'militant' is a badge that fits for all those three."

The comments are a significant change of direction for the government, which had previously tried to maintain a more reasonable, sympathetic stance in its public discussions of the unions.

Public sector workers did not receive any support from Labour either, although the criticism was considerably less aggressive from Mr Miliband.

"Strikes are always a sign of failure but I'm not going to demonise the people who are taking the action," the Labour leader said on a visit to Asda.

"I don't support strikes because they are always a sign of failure."

His remark has raised eyebrows, as they demonstrate a clear divide at the top of the opposition's leadership. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls told the Independent on Sunday that he had "great sympathy" with strikers.

A ComRes poll for the BBC today found 61% of people believe public sector workers are justified in going on strike over changes to their pensions.


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