Not everyone in the United Kingdom is thrilled with the impending arrival of the baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge next month. During a speech Tuesday evening in which he criticized the government’s cuts in welfare spending, Dave Prentis, the general-secretary of Unison -- Britain’s largest public service union, which represents more than 1.3 million members – equated Kate Middleton with young women who intentionally get pregnant in order to qualify for welfare handouts.
Having already criticized the costs related to the recent funeral of Margaret Thatcher, Prentis quipped: “In the tabloid press, so much is written about benefits abuses -- young women having babies to get state handouts. But … that’s enough [about] Kate Middleton.”
Noting that Unison has already handed out £4 million ($6.3 million) to the Labour Party, some top Conservatives urged Labour leader Ed Miliband to censure Prentis and distance himself from the union chief. Henry Smith, a Tory MP who represents Crawley, condemned Prentis’ slur. “This is an outrageous personal attack on the Duchess of Cambridge,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “Ed Miliband should distance himself from these spiteful remarks. If he does not, it will be clear that he is a weak leader who stands for the union barons' interests, not the interests of hard-working people.”
The Labour Party apparently issued no comment about Prentis’ tasteless remarks.
The Mail (which tends to support the Conservative Party) noted that Prentis, who received total pay package of about £120,000 last year, will pressure Miliband to change government policies should he become prime minister in two years. “For too long we [unions] built the careers of Labour politicians, only to be let down when we needed them most," Prentis said in his speech at a union conference. “I don't want to hear Labour apologizing for past mistakes; I want to see a clear agenda from Labour for the future.”
Prentis continued to warn Labour. “We must not support a Labour government that does not: put an end to privatization and market madness or restore our … public services … restore workers rights and remove the shackles on trade unions.”
Comments by readers to the Daily Mail about Prentis’ remarks were decidedly mixed. One reader tended to agree with Prentis: “What work has this woman [Kate] actually done? The royals should be done away with. They're as dead as the Dodo and a lot less productive, and she is a lot less productive than all of them put together.”
But another reader condemned Prentis: “What would you expect from a Union man? While he is on the gravy train paid [for] by his members to lead the high life.”
According to DiscoveryFinance.com, Kate and her husband William do not make as much as most people think. As a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, Williams earns 44,000 pounds per year (about $69,000), while his brother, Prince Harry, makes about $60,000 as a captain in the British Army.
Neither William nor Kate receive a salary for performing their royal duties, although they may be reimbursed for any costs incurred while making foreign trips or other public appearances. But they’re not starving either. When William and Harry reach the age of 30, they will have access to the $10 million their departed mother, Diana, left them.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.