Chris Moncrieff: PM faces uphill struggle on union laws

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DAVID Cameron has promised – or threatened – to deliver a new blow against the trade unions if he wins the next general election for the Conservatives with an outright majority in the Commons after May 7.

He has served early notice that in order to be legal, strikes in public sector industries, including education, health and transport, will require a 40 per cent proportion in favour of such action.

The TUC leadership has already denounced the proposal, saying it will deny thousands of workers in these industries the right to strike altogether.

There is no doubt that Cameron – had he won outright in 2010 – would have included this measure in the current Parliament, but there was no way his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, would have allowed it to go through.

Such a move would please thousands of public transport commuters though, who have been dogged by difficulties and frustrations caused (admittedly not always) by trade union activity.

But the Tories now believe that the unions are getting, once more, too big and too powerful for their boots and need bringing down to size.

Despite the popularity among Tories for such a reform, it will still be difficult (even given a Tory overall victory) to get it through Parliament unscathed. Labour see this move as yet another “vicious” attack by Tory “toffs” on the working man.

IT might seem a simple process to everyone else, but politicians are turning the proposed general election leadership TV broadcasts into a dog’s breakfast.

The Prime Minister has feebly said that he will not take part in these broadcasts unless the Greens are also allowed a slot.

Tory peer Lord Tebbit has said David Cameron will be accused of being “frit” and of “running scared” if he pulls out of the broadcasts for what many regard as a pathetic reason.

In the United States the equivalent broadcasts are usually open just to the two people who have any chance whatsoever of entering the White House. There are separate broadcasts for their proposed Vice Presidents.

Why should the same principle not apply in Britain?

Why do we need a plethora of no-hopers joining in the fray and complicating what should be a straightforward matter?

I can think of only two people, Cameron and Ed Miliband, who are at all likely to move into Downing Street next May. There is no need for any other political parties to take part – not even the Lib Dems or Ukip.

It seems clear that Cameron is looking for a “get out” clause – mind you, there would be no mourning among the electorate if these broadcasts did not take place at all.

THERE is no doubt that if the general election produces another hung parliament, with the Tories the lead party, David Cameron will not contemplate another coalition arrangement. It has been a nightmare from start to finish and I am sure that in these circumstances he will try and go it alone with a minority government.

That is probably why Conservative Central Office is planning for not just one but two general elections this year – the first time that that will have happened since 1974.

Meanwhile Ed Miliband has denounced the idea of a coalition if he is in the lead, though he may nevertheless have to settle for some kind of alliance with the hated Scottish Nationalists who’ve been burgeoning fast (by taking on board thousands of traditional Labour voters) since the Scottish independence referendum.

SIR Denis Thatcher was once asked who really wore the trousers in the Thatcher household. He replied: “I do – but I wash and iron ‘em too.”

When the same question was addressed to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, he replied: “We 
both do.”

I think one can assume from that reply that his lively Spanish wife Miriam rules their household roost.

WHEN the Prime Minister is next doling out aid to overseas countries, he might first check to ensure that we have enough cash left in the kitty to meet our own security problems.

Just a thought.

Chris Moncrieff is a former political editor of the Press Association.