Miliband aims to distance himself from unions

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Indy Politics

Ed Miliband yesterday condemned the prospect of unions timing industrial action to coincide with the Royal Wedding in April or next year's Olympic Games.

The Labour leader urged them against organising co-ordinated strikes to protest against cuts, warning them the tactic would be a return to the "heroic failures" of the 1980s. His comments marked his latest effort to rebut Tory accusations that he is "Red Ed", with an agenda dictated by the large unions that bankroll his party.

Some union officials have suggested that London Underground workers could strike on 29 April, the day of Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton. Mr Miliband told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I am appalled at the idea of strikes to disrupt people going to the Royal Wedding. It alienates the public, and it is not the way to make the political argument we need to make."

Aides said he would be delivering the same message in a meeting with union leaders this week. Mr Miliband sought again to distance himself from his predecessor, listing a series of errors by Gordon Brown's administration. He said the previous government should have been quicker to acknowledge the need for spending cuts and to accept responsibility for insufficient regulation of the banks. Mr Miliband added it was a "mistake" to proclaim an end to boom and bust.

However, in a separate radio interview, he said he still sought advice from his predecessor. "This job is such a hard job that it is right that I keep in touch with the people who had done it, so I talk to Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock. It's only when you have been in the job [that] you can really understand the pressure it involves, so I get advice from lots of people."

Mr Miliband also claimed he had been working with the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, in opposing Government plans to abolish the Educational Maintenance Allowance.

Mr Hughes said at the weekend that he backed the retention of the £30-a-week allowance for less well-off children and had discussed the issue with Labour ahead of a Commons vote on Wednesday. Last night, Mr Hughes accused the Labour leader of "using misleading rhetoric in television interviews for cheap political point-scoring".

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