Michael Gove’s speech this morning is being widely seen as the government taking a more confrontational attitude to the strike. But I think that’s only half the story. What Gove was trying to do was appeal to the union membership while attacking those union leaders who really don’t want a deal. We should remember that Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, isn’t a Labour man but an actual Trot.
The challenge for the government is going to come if no deal is reached by the end of the year, and it is hard to see what more the coalition can offer without damaging its own credibility. Then, it’ll have to decide whether it can simply impose a deal without the unions responding with a prolonged strike.