Clegg's olive branch to strikers
While Andrew Lansley was offering a new deal on health sector pension reform but sparking fresh anger from the unions, Nick Clegg has been out been out trying to smooth tensions with the public sector.
His comments are significant because they come in the aftermath of last week's pension strike - branded a "damp squib" by David Cameron - and George Osborne's fresh round of austerity which will hit public servants hard.
The Lib-Dem Deputy PM acknowledged public sector workers "bristle" at talk of paring back the public sector, and insisted rebalancing the economy was not "code for cutting them adrift".
Warning against re-opening old divisions, he said: "Many of our public sector workers are making sacrifices, and I am hugely grateful for it. And I am grateful to the people making sacrifices in the private sector too.
"And what will hurt both groups is if we now allow this debate to become polarised - as if our dilemma is helping the public sector versus the private sector; the North versus the South. Picking industry or picking banking.
"Because if we play into these bygone caricatures of the left and the right, if we allow our society to fracture into these camps, that is the surest way to drag the UK back to the 1980s."
I suspect there is a dual message here: one for the public sector, to say the LibDems feel their pain. And one for Tory Coalition colleagues, to say lay off the tough talk.
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