The government showed its weakness this week as David Cameron was bloodied by his own MPs over Europe.
In the largest ever rebellion on the European Union, 81 Tories voted against the government, including two junior ministers.
The Tories were fighting among themselves over a back bench motion to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. In the end Cameron only managed to win on the back of Labour votes.
The scale of the Tory revolt will have shocked the government. Cameron personally took responsibility for whipping the backbenchers into line, so their defiance is all the more damaging to him.
It was a tricky week for Cameron to face a debate on Europe. He had just been publicly shunned by one of the leaders of the very institution his MPs are calling for him to withdraw from.
When he demanded the right to be a part of current negotiations on European bailout plans, French leader Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told him, “We’re sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do.”
That’s a sentiment many workers in Britain will share.
The rows over Europe may seem to be a distraction, but they have left the government looking weak and divided.
Yet it still has the capacity to be nasty. The Tories’ fight for survival will involve ever more devastating cuts and attacks on ordinary people.
Labour’s response even echoed some of the Tories’ nationalism. Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary, criticised the government splits, saying, “We need them to be fighting for British jobs.”
None of the politicians have a solution to the crisis.
The timing of the 30 November strikes couldn’t be better. Cameron is in trouble—let’s keep up the pressure.