Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has branded Tory union bashing “bad politics”, amidst reports a third of trade unionists are thought to be Conservative.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has branded Tory union bashing “bad politics”, following reports a third of trade union members are thought to vote Conservative.
Speaking at the Ucatt construction union’s annual conference in Scarborough today, he said:
“Robert [Halfon MP] wrote a pamphlet in March entitled ‘Stop the Union Bashing’.
“Much as it pains me, Robert points out in his pamphlet that almost a third of trade union members in this country are thought to be Conservative voters. It is they who the Tories are attacking.
“The prime minister, his ministers and his backbenchers’ attacks on you are not only wrong. It is bad politics too.”
Relations between the unions and the Tories have been tense recently, following reports David Cameron is backing the controversial Beecroft report which proposes tearing up employment red tape to make it easier to dismiss staff.
At Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, Cameron came to blows with Ed Miliband, accusing him of being too sympathetic with the unions. The prime minister said:
“Of course, you cannot support any changes to employment regulation because you are in the pocket of the trade unions.”
• Chuka Umunna: My vision for One Nation Labour 12 May 2011
Umunna went on to criticise Cameron’s attitude to the trade unions:
“At a time of national crisis, when he could be drawing us together, he has sought to divide and rule. We saw it over the dispute on public sector pensions last year. We saw it during the fuel tanker drivers dispute this year.
“We saw it at Prime Minster’s Questions last week. Ministers seeking to divide public from private, trade union member from non trade union member – sowing the seeds of division instead of building consensus.”
By launching scathing attacks on trade unions and union members, and assuming all are allied with Labour, Cameron is effectively driving away the third of trade unionists who support him.