The new boss of Unite, Len McCluskey has put both Dave and Ed in a tricky spot this morning. His Guardian piece is a boorishly militant call to arms, suggesting that the unions need to take a leaf out of the student protesters book and start smashing stuff up. Well he doesn’t quite say that, but phrases like “preparing for battle” “assault” and “developing our resistance” don’t leave much to the imagination.
Obviously this doesn’t bode well for the Prime Minister’s planned frosty beer and sandwiches with the union bosses today, but the meeting was hardly going to be sweetness and laughter anyway. It’s Miliband that the article really backs into a corner though. Explicitly slamming New Labour for keeping Thatcher’s union controls and hinting that they want him to shift to the left, Ed has been forced to come out this morning against the very people who gave him his job:
“The language and tone of Len McCluskey’s comments are wrong and unhelpful and Ed Miliband will be making that clear when he meets him in the near future.”
So the purse-string holding unions that Ed schmoozed over the summer are teaming up with the extreme left “Coalition of Resistance”. The more centrist Parliamentary Labour Party, which on the whole didn’t vote for Ed, remains unconvinced by his performance thus far, as do big donors. Leaders of the Opposition need friends, not least on their own side.
When the going gets really tough, who exactly is Ed going to turn to for support?