WHY is it that every time I hear Horsham MP, Francis Maude, on the radio, my anger and blood pressure levels rise significantly and I am spurred to put pen to paper publicly in protest?
On Saturday November 12 on Radio 4’s PM programme the Cabinet Office Minister spouted one of his customary belligerent and confrontational diatribes against the unions. Words like negotiation, mediation and reasoned compromise do not seem to be part of Mr Maude’s vocabulary.
His thinly veiled and almost undisguised threat to bring in curbing legislation if the industrial action planned for November 30 goes ahead is totally unjustified.
Mr Maude suggested that the unions should act responsibly - it is time that he and his colleagues took their own advice - some reasonable responsibility on the part of the coalition Government would not come amiss.
However, with a Government containing as many millionaires as are in the current cabinet, we can hardly expect these ministers to understand how the coalition Government’s policies and actions are affecting ordinary people and trade union members in this country.
Mr Maude opines that union strike votes are not representative - has he not looked at the figures from the head teachers?
That body is surely amongst the most responsible groups in the UK, and for them to vote for strike action for the first time ever in their 114 year history seems to suggest that this Government has got things sadly wrong once again.
The ballot of head teachers achieved a 54 per cent turnout, with more than 75 per cent voting for strike action - hardly the sort of figures suggested by the Minister as unrepresentative.
Come on Mr Maude, abandon your Government’s ‘pig-headed’ stance (as described by one questioner on the BBC Any Questions programme on Friday evening, and applauded warmly by the Brighton audience), take your own advice to act responsibly and come to the table prepared to be reasonable and negotiate properly and meaningfully.
It would be nice to think that Mr Maude might respond to the points made here and engage in some reasoned dialogue, but previous experience makes me think that to be highly unlikely.
His track record suggests that the comments above will be ignored totally, as has been the case in the past.
PETER J. BATES
Peter J Bates
Brighton Road, Woodmancote