Monday, 17 January 2011

Another day, another tactical error from Miliband

Ed Miliband has warned union leaders that they risk damaging Labour with a wave of unpopular strikes, following suggestions that London Underground workers could strike on the day of Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton. He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I am appalled at the idea of strikes to disrupt people going to the Royal Wedding. It alienates the public, and it is not the way to make the political argument we need to make."

Such a position makes a fatal error. At a time of swingeing cuts to public services and the final doing away of the last vestiges of our post-war settlement, the sight of vain-glorious Royals using public money to splash out on designer dresses is not one to be defended. 

As well as costing the average tax-payer their sanity, the total bill for the wedding is set to amount to anything up to £50 million. Businesses further warn that the economy will be left with a devastating £5 billion black hole as a result of the bank holiday. Contrast this with the relatively minor loss of earnings resulting from travel disruption, it's certainly fair to say that the real damage will be caused by this entirely unnecessary wedding and bank holiday. 

The message is simple: there is no economic justification for billions to be wasted on unearned privilege while workers are forced to strike without pay for the most modest improvements in working conditions. Taken together with the changing mood towards the monarchy and the increasing popularity for a republic, there has never been a better time for Labour to be radical and reach out beyond ideological differences. 

What better way to reach out to radical liberals than to break with the monarch?