Royal invitation bridges class divide

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The Independent Online
THE Establishment is clutching Labour to its bosom. The Princess Royal has been invited to the Trades Union Congress and Gordon Brown, the shadow chancellor, is to address the Confederation of British Industry conference.

These moves, so soon after Tony Blair's successful visit to President Clinton last week, confirm Labour's intention to win middle-class respectability in the run-up to the general election.

John Prescott, the deputy leader and former deckhand, whose assertion that he has joined the middle-class raised eyebrows, insisted yesterday: "My party represents both middle class and working class."

Princess Anne, the first royal to be asked to speak to the trade union "parliament", has been invited in her capacity as head of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, a charity supported by a number of unions.

"This is part of the TUC's change in direction to make common cause with people who share common concerns with us," said a TUC spokesman. "We are building support right across the spectrum of society."

The only previous occasion when royalty has appeared before the representatives of the toiling masses was when Prince Charles gave a speech to steelworkers in the Eighties.

Mr Brown is to address the CBI conference in Birmingham in November. He will seek to allay fears that a Labour government would "tax and spend" or be hostile to business, a Labour adviser said last night.

The speech follows discreet contacts with Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England, and top-level civil servants including Sir Robin Butler, the Cabinet Secretary, that are part of Labour's "familiarisation with governing" programme.

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