For a former PR man prime minister David Cameron showed poor judgement in portraying today’s strike by public service workers in defence of their pension rights as “something like a damp squib.”
He missed the chance to appear statesmanlike opting instead for Tory-boy adversarial.
Cameron's assessment made during PMQs in the Commons was patently wrong. Strikes and rallies were nationwide and supported by millions of public sector staff including those who were driven to take industrial action for the first time in living memory if not in the history of their unions.
Cameron’s dismissive comment will rile and make it that much easier to strike next time round if a compromise over pension ‘reforms’ cannot be found. It won’t be received well either by parents.
They may be docked a day’s pay because with schools closed, they had to stay home with their children.
People can muddle through the once – shopping centres were buzzing – but repeats in 2012 will stir up public resentment.
Strikers will take flak but the Coalition will also come into the firing line if it seeks to trivialise the disruption in taking a hard line.
Cameron can’t have it both ways – wishing away the strike’s effectiveness in one breath and claiming it damages the British economy with the next.
As I complained yesterday the pensions issue is fiendish complex. I don’t get the impression either the unions or the government is fully in charge of the facts. They can’t even agree whether negotiations are continuing or have broken down.
Meanwhile the Occupy London activists were ill-advised to try and storm the London HQ of the mining giant Xstrata this afternoon. They failed but in doing so diverted media attention away from the official public service protests.