Last week’s elections showed the depth of opposition to its attacks. Most of the electoral fallout hit Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.
People vented their anger over his broken promises on tuition fees and eagerness to hook up with a Tory party hell bent on axing public services, slashing jobs and wrecking the NHS.
The Lib Dems were wiped out in a string of council strongholds across England, including in Clegg’s constituency of Sheffield. They lost 748 seats.
The party limped home fourth in Scotland and took a battering in Wales.
And that came on top of the defeat of what Clegg had called “the shoddy compromise” of the AV voting system in the referendum. Now the thieves in the government are falling out.
Lib Dem Vince Cable described the Tories as “ruthless, tribal and calculating”—but he added that he still wanted to do business with them.
Tory MP Bernard Jenkin responded, “We should invite the Lib Dems to take part in the debate, but not to divert the Conservative Party from its historic purposes. That would be the tail wagging the dog.”
While the coalition is weakened, it won’t fall apart because of its own contradictions. In a general election, the Lib Dems would face obliteration.
After 80 years in the political wilderness, they are unlikely to chuck away the Mercs and perks of office willingly.
The Tories managed to tread water at the election partially because there isn’t the same sense of betrayal from the toffs’ voters. But they still don’t have enough support to win an election.
So Cameron and Clegg will continue to cling to each other—a little less enthusiastically, but still determined to make ordinary people pay for the crisis.
Cameron even boasted that the coalition is “getting on with the job”.
And Cameron and Clegg are set to mark the first anniversary of the coalition by launching new attacks on the unemployed this week.
The crisis over the NHS is indicative. Clegg claimed there would be “substantial, significant changes” as the Tory bill is put on hold over fear of the growing opposition.
But as Tory right-winger John Redwood pointed out, “The health reforms were coalition policy. Nick Clegg personally signed it.”
The coalition’s problems underline the importance of the resistance over the NHS, cuts, jobs, pensions—and particularly the prospect of coordinated public sector strikes on 30 June.
Hundreds of thousands of teachers in the NUT and ATL unions, civil service workers in the PCS and lecturers in the UCU are set to strike.
Mass action can bring down this rotten government.
The mood to resist the cuts was strengthened after the TUC demonstration in March.
Beyond that there is a seething anger at the daily assault on our jobs and our services. That is one factor behind the unofficial walkout in Royal Mail this week (see below).
The elections showed people are sick of the government. The task now now to urgently build the resistance to stop it.