Gove ramps up anti-strike rhetoric. But he didn't always feel this way

The Education Secretary condemns "industrial strife" -- but a photograph shows him on a picket line

The coalition is ramping up the anti-strike rhetoric today, with Michael Gove set to condemn union bosses as "militants, hardliners itching for a fight". The Education Secretary will deliver a speech in which he will say:

They 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. They want teachers and other public sector workers to lose a day's pay in the run-up to Christmas.

They want scenes of industrial strife on our TV screens; they want to make economic recovery harder; they want to provide a platform for confrontation just when we all need to pull together.

So far, so Tory -- but has Gove always felt this way? No, he hasn't, as a photograph published by the People last March demonstrated. It shows a young Gove on strike as a trainee reporter at a newspaper in Aberdeen, smiling widely as he holds up a sign saying "Official picket, don't cross":

gove strike

Gove, clearly aware that this picture could potentially undermine his anti-union stance, will address it in today's speech:

I'm speaking out today because I know what it's like to go on strike because some people at the top of a Union leadership wanted to prove a point.

I lost my job. So did more than one hundred others. I was lucky - young, unmarried, without a mortgage. I got another job soon enough. Many others didn't. They never worked again in the profession they loved. And the deal we were offered before the strike never improved.

The cynical among us might note that Gove doesn't exactly look like he's under duress in the photograph. On a serious note, he clearly hopes to use his own experience to underscore the different between the moderate majority and the militant leadership of the unions. However, given that this strike will include many traditionally non-militant professionals, like headteachers, this might not stick.

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

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Why it's a mistake to assume that Jeremy Corbyn has already won

The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury on why the race to be Labour's leader is far from over.

They think it’s all over.

But they’re wrong.

The fat lady has yet to sing.

The commentary and reporting around the Labour party leadership campaign has started to assume we have a winner already in Jeremy Corbyn. The analysis, conjecture, predictions/complete guesswork about what happens next has begun in earnest. So we have seen speculation about who will be appointed to a Corbyn shadow cabinet, and “meet the team” pieces about Jeremy’s backroom operation.

Which is all very interesting and makes for the usual Westminster knockabout of who might be up and who might be going in the other direction pdq...

But I think it’s a mistake to say that Jeremy has already won.

Because I hear that tens of thousands of Labour party members, affiliates and registered supporters are yet to receive their ballot papers. And I am one of them. I can’t remember the last time I checked my post quite so religiously! But alas, my papers are yet to arrive.

This worries me a bit about the process. But mostly (assuming all the remaining ballots finally land in enough time to let us all vote) it tells me that frankly it’s still game on as far as the battle to become the next leader of the Labour party is concerned.

And this is reinforced when we consider the tens of thousands who have apparently received their papers but who have yet to vote. At every event I have attended in the last couple of weeks, and in at least half of all conversations I have had with members across the country, members are still making their minds up.

This is why we have to continue fighting for every vote until the end – and I will be fighting to get out every vote I possibly can for Yvette Cooper.

Over the campaign, Yvette has shown that she has a clear vision of the kind of Britain that she wants to see.

A Britain that tackles head-on the challenges of globalisation. Instead of the low-wage low-skill cul-de-sac being crafted by the Tories, Yvette's vision is for 2m more high skill manufacturing jobs. To support families she will prioritise a modern childcare system with 30 hours of fully funded child care for all 3 and 4 year olds and she will revive the bravery of post war governments to make sure 2m more homes are built within ten years.

It's an optimistic vision which taps into what most people in this country want. A job and a home.

And the responses of the focus groups on Newsnight a few days ago were telling – Yvette is clearly best placed to take us on the long journey to the 2020 general election by winning back former Labour voters.

We will not win an election without winning these groups back – and we will have to move some people who were in the blue column this time, to the red one next time. There is no other way to do it – and Yvette is the only person who can grow our party outwards so that once again we can build a winning coalition of voters across the country.