The strikes: in photos

Placards from today's strikes over public sector pensions.

Thousands of people gathered in Manchester and London today to take part in marches. Police leave in the capital has been cancelled with a large Met operation underway to police the march.

Teacher's strike over public sector pensions

Downing Street confirmed that more than 10,000 schools have either closed or cancelled lessons as a result of the strikes over public sectorpensions.

Public sector pension strike

National Union of Teachers (NUT) figures suggest that 80 per cent of schools may have been affected.

Public sector pension strike

Downing Street claimed that only half of members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents civil service workers, have joined the walkouts.

Public sector pension strike

The PCS, however, insisted it was the best supported strike of the union's history, saying that 90 per cent of members in the Department of Work and Pensions and 85 per cent in HM Revenue and Customs were on strike.

Public sector pensions strike

The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, claimed the turnout was lower than the 2004 and 2007 strikes against Labour's pension reforms.

Public sector pension strike

Ed Miliband stayed firmly on the fence, saying: "These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on but parents and the public have been let down by both sides because the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner."

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.