Whilst Cameron may argue that he has turned down the TUC speech because it is likely to coincide with his paternity leave, it is much more likely to be for what The Guardian outlined:
“David Cameron has turned down an invitation to address this year’s TUC conference after a union leader warned that he would organise a mass walkout if the prime minister made an appearance at the event in Manchester.”
Bob Crow, the union leader mentioned in the quote above, described the decision to invite Cameron as a “class-a mistake”. I agree, Cameron shouldn’t be speaking at a union event when he is setting out plans to destabilise the unions, and make the rightful democratic process to protect members near impossible. Furthermore, with the savage cuts and mass amount of job losses, it again is no wonder that a union leader may feel rather aggrieved to then welcome one of the key perpetrators (Vince Cable incidentally has accepted the invite, maybe Crow should do the same thing for him too?).
Rather than seeing the invite as a mistake however, the fact that Cameron has now refused the invite makes it look more as though, even if it was to do with paternity leave, he was warned off by Crow’s words. Scared of being booed, or talking to a handful of people – he took the easy route out. It also provides scope for unions to argue that it justifies their claim that Cameron is intent on breaking down the unions and has no respect for what they do, and is also fully aware of the effects of his economic ‘policies’, specifically on unemployment.
There is a real need for unions to remain strong and collective in the current era of job losses and pay freezes. The left progressive parties need to forge better relations with the unions, as Labour in particular has been rather crash in its dealing with unions of late – partaking in BA’s attempts to crush the Unite, for example. Cameron’s attempts to cosey up to the unions pre-election were just one aspect of a massive PR campaign to hide the reality and cold face of the Tory party.
However, what has become clear since the Tories have shared power, is that their true policies are not afraid to bloom – countless U-turns have already took place, and look destined to continue – you only have to look at the news today that the so called “death tax” will be included in a social care review. The hypocrisy is too great – but only a pluralistic progressive left, which includes the unions, can halt it.
Update 29th July 2010 – It is understood that the TUC have rightly withdrawn Vince Cable’s offer to speak at the TUC as a sign of their protest against the government cuts.