The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Trade unions turn on Vince

Invitation to Cable to address TUC conference is withdrawn.

David Cameron handily managed to avoid a slow handclap from the trade unions, because the TUC conference will coincide with the birth of his fourth child in September. As a result, Vince Cable was called up to represent the coalition in front of the brothers.

But now comes news that the TUC has withdrawn its invitation to Cable, citing his support for the coalition's savage cuts.

A senior union figure said: "He's become the king of hatchets. Before the election he went through a Keynesian phase, so we temporarily had a little common ground, but for some reason that is no longer the case."

Cable's full-throated support for the part-privatisation of Royal Mail, which he will oversee as Business Secretary, can't have helped, either. But the unions' snub to Vince is another sign of how bad relations between them and the coalition have become.

There was once a time when Cameron was keen to win over the labour movement. He became the first Conservative leader in more than a decade to meet the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, and even appointed an emissary -- the former Labour MEP Richard Balfe -- to spearhead secret negotiations with the unions.

But it now seems likely that the coalition will face the most concerted period of strike action since the Thatcher era.

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