UK Politics

Miliband 'appalled' by royal wedding strikes threat

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Media captionThe Labour leader Ed Miliband has told Andrew Marr he doesn't like the idea of a co-ordinated strike

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he is "appalled" by the idea of trade unions planning strikes to disrupt royal wedding celebrations.

He told the BBC such a plan of action would be "absolutely the wrong thing to do" and a "sign of failure".

There have been reports of transport and public sector strikes on 29 April, but unions have played down the idea in recent days.

David Cameron has suggested changing the law to make it harder to strike.

London Underground drivers in the Aslef union had been considering walking out on the day of Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton, but the threat has been removed as talks with Transport for London officials take place.

'Heroic failures'

British Airways cabin crew have also talked of striking on the same day and over the Easter period. But, last week, Len McCluskey, the general secretary-elect of the Unite union, said there was "no likelihood" of such action.

There are, however, suggestions that public sector workers may protest on the day against the effects of government cuts, including pay freezes and job losses.

Mr Miliband told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I'm appalled by the idea that there are going to be strikes to disrupt the royal wedding. That's absolutely the wrong thing for the trade unions to do.

"I would totally condemn that and similarly in relation to the Olympics...

"Strikes are a last resort and a sign of failure on both sides... They are not the way you change a government. The way you change a government is through the ballot box."

He added: "What we are not going to do under my leadership is go back to the heroic failures of the 1980s."

The prime minister has suggested he could look at the law on industrial action, amid calls for strike ballots to be unlawful if under half of a union's membership takes part.

In his BBC interview, Mr Miliband said he had been talking to Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes about the coalition's scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for teenagers in England.

He added that he hope disaffected Lib Dems would "join" Labour in opposing the change, as the EMA had "created educational opportunity in this country".

Mr Hughes told Sky News he had held talks with Mr Miliband "at my instigation", but added that, in his job as "access advocate" for the prime minister, it was important to speak to all parties.

He said he wanted to find "common ground" on the EMA.

MPs are set to vote on Wednesday on a Labour motion calling for the allowance to be retained.

On other matters, Mr Miliband said Labour had got "a job to do to win back economic credibility" following the financial crisis.

But he insisted that the annual state borrowing of 2% of national income prior to the crisis had been "manageable". It was only the reduction in tax revenue caused by the banking crash which had driven the deficit up beyond 10% and made it a problem, he added.

Mr Miliband also admitted that Gordon Brown had been wrong to claim the Labour government had ended the economic cycle of rapid growth and recession, saying: "Clearly, we should not have said there would be no boom and bust. That was clearly a mistake."

However, Conservative deputy chairman Michael Fallon said: "Ed Miliband is treating people like fools. Labour's reckless overspending left Britain with the largest structural deficit in the G7 when the financial crisis hit.

"Ed Miliband still won't admit Labour maxed out the nation's credit card. In fact he says he'd do it all again. How can anyone trust Labour with the economy when its leader is still in denial about his party's mistakes?"

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