The government is taking on all comers including doctors – and is bound to lose

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Michael Gove has called teachers unprofessional for striking. He says they will lose their reputation with the public.  he says the public will support the government in strike reform as a result.

But now the doctors are also saying  they will not accept pension reform.  I should declare a benefit:  my wife is a GP. And as the Guardian reports today:

Doctors could take industrial action over the government's "unwarranted and unfair assault" on their pensions, the profession's leader has warned ministers.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, delivered a sharply worded rejection of the coalition's pensions plans in his keynote address to the doctors' union's annual conference on Monday.

"Let me make it absolutely clear: we will consider every possible, every legitimate action that can be taken to defend doctors' pensions," he said in a speech to 500 doctors' representatives in Cardiff.

"I have this message for ministers. Whilst we will be reasonable, whilst we will not rush to precipitate action, whilst we will not put patients' lives at risk, do not in any way or for one single moment mistake this responsible attitude as a reason to underestimate our strength of feeling and our determination to seek fairness for those we represent.

"The profession will act responsibly, but we will not accept an unwarranted and unfair assault on our pensions."

And I genuinely believe they might.

There is good reason. Teachers, doctors and the police (who will follow suit on this) have high status in society: they're trusted. Politicians don't enjoy that confidence. Take on two of these groups, or worse, all three and the government is bound to lose.

The reality is that all these groups do exceptional jobs for less than market rates precisely because of the pension benefit that compensates them for the burdens they take on - which few in the private sector face.

Of course the government can take on teachers, doctors and people working in law and order. But to call them unprofessional, or to suggest they are militant is madness on the government's part. They're not. They're decent people doing a decent job who expect the governemtn to do the decent thing and pay them a decent reward for that work.

And people will side against the government if push comes to shove, as it might.

There;'s a difficult year for the coalition  ahead.



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