Ed Miliband and the TUC: Job done?

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Media captionEd Miliband said "meaningful negotiation" is needed to prevent further confrontation in the autumn

They called him Red Ed. They said he was in hock to the unions. They said he owed them.

Today the Labour leader sought to prove them wrong.

In his first speech to the TUC conference he told union leaders what some clearly did not want to hear on looming strikes over reforms to public sector pensions, on spending cuts and on the benefits of academy schools.

On strikes he was greeted with cries of shame when he declared: "while negotiations were going on, I do believe it was a mistake for strikes to happen. I continue to believe that."

Later he added: "in truth, strikes are always the consequence of failure. Failure we cannot afford as a nation. Instead your real role is as partners in the new economy."

On spending cuts he told them, "We are not going to be able to spend our way to a new economy," and added that he could not promise to reverse all Tory cuts - such as the upgrading of pensions in line with CPI not the higher RPI.

On academies he said that they should work together with other state schools. That produced shouts of "No".

Now, lest you think this was Ed Miliband's WI moment, let me be clear, it was not. He was warmly applauded when he attacked tax avoidance, the Bombardier contract, NHS reorganisation and bankers.

This, I suspect, will be seen as "job done" by the Labour leadership ie Ed Miliband has created some visible distance between himself and the unions who helped elect him.