PM chairs strike meeting
A majority of the public think Wednesday's strikes should not go ahead, according to a poll published tonight. The ComRes survey for ITV found 51% of respondents thought the industrial action would not be successful and should not therefore go ahead.
Earlier, David Cameron chaired a civil contingency meeting to prepare for Wednesday's strikes. The Prime Minister's spokesman also told reporters this afternoon that the Government had yet to receive a response from union leaders to their offer on public sector pensions.
The meeting followed Michael Gove's attack this morning on "militant" union leaders. The Education Secretary hit out at "hard liners, the militants itching for a fight" ahead of Wednesday's strike on public sector pensions. He singled out PCS leader Mark Serwotka and Unite's Len McCluskey and Andrew Murray, saying that militant was a "badge that fits". The Education Secretary gave a hard-hitting speech arguing the strikers want to make life as difficult as possible for parents and workers.
Answering questions from the audience afterwards, Mr Gove said he was referring to Mark Serwotka of the PCS union, and Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey of Unite. Clarifying that he was not attacking the teaching unions, he added: "Militant is a badge that fits."
Today Labour leader Ed Miliband said he did not support the strike action either. He said: "I don't support strikes because they are always a sign of failure." Ministers have continued to roundly condemn the strikes, with Danny Alexander warning this morning that increasingly heated rhetoric from the trade unions on public sector pensions was a "big distraction" and could make it "harder to get the deal that we all want".
Unite General Secretary Mr McCluskey accused Mr Maude of “doublespeak”, and said the Government had been “intransigent” in negotiations until the unions had threatened to ballot on strikes. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, told the Guardian that Wednesday's strikes could be just the start, and ministers would be wrong it they thought they could "weather the storm of next Wednesday and assume unions would go quietly".
In an exclusive interview with PoliticsHome, Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg said that the strikes were "idiotic" and led by "greedy" unions, adding that the deals given to the unions was "fantastic and probably too generous".