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The Guardian view on Sunak and the strikes: misreading the mood of the nation | Editorial


The prime minister is seeking confrontation with the unions in the belief he will reap a political reward

The replacement of the hapless Liz Truss by Rishi Sunak was widely assumed to herald the return of a “grown-up”, managerial style of politics to Downing Street. With the markets duly placated by Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement, some senior Tories even began to worry that Sunakian stability and fiscal orthodoxy would be too boring a platform on which to face Labour at the next election.

But it turns out that, outside the City, Britons aren’t bored by Mr Sunak’s fledgling premiership; they are furious and insurgent. Rail and postal workers, nurses, ambulance workers and civil servants are currently planning to go on strike in December. They may be joined by teachers and junior doctors in the new year. In all, more than a million members of the workforce may withdraw their labour in the lead-up to Christmas – numbers reminiscent of the “winter of discontent” in 1978/9. This is despite lower levels of union membership and far more stringent rules governing strike action.

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