Ed Miliband’s close-run victory over his brother David has triggered real debate over whether his backing from Trade Unionists will hamper the Labour party in the future. This seems to have brought to a head the major divide in politics at the moment – should we cut the deficit, or should we spend our way out of recession?
Unite, whose members gave 40% of their vote to Ed Miliband and were his largest backer have called for an “alternative economic and industrial strategy” claiming that rapid reductions in spending is not essential to cutting our country’s deficit.
With a year of increased strike activity, it is a difficult balance to make. For the Trade Unions, their greatest weapon has always been the threat of strikes. However, with so many businesses in financial difficulty and uncertainty, it seems hard to imagine that if every business went on strike any real difference could be made. Many businesses face damaging their client base just as British Airways found out earlier this year. If customers are apathetic, then in the end it will be the employees who suffer.
Ed Miliband’s difficult job is to somehow stride the two horses – keeping the Trade Unions happy while at the same time appealing to the larger society.
With the divide widening on policy, it is in the interest of not only his party, but also the real people on the ground that is at stake. Probably the stakes have never been higher.