So the Rally Against Debt was held this weekend, a Right Wing answer to the recent TUC organised march - http://rallyagainstdebt.org/. It was never really going to attract many, barely in the hundreds. Not that many people are so vehemently in favour of government cuts so as to shout about it in the centre of London. However, that’s not to say there aren’t many who support the rally in principle and many more who understand the need for deficit reduction and public spending cuts.
Completely different motivations are involved in the different sides of the arguments and certain groups are more disposed to protesting. The particular ‘pro-cuts’ groups that make up the likes of ‘Rally Against Debt’ are essentially quite extreme and the numbers at the rally, in many ways, irrelevant.
Something much more relevant occurred recently, a truer reflection of public opinion. Not the protests on the 26th March of course, which went off pretty much as expected…
No surprises with the groups that attended the march and no surprise how it all ended…
Shocking images from the Right Wing press...
The numbers in attendance were quite high, though estimates have varied throughout the media it could have been close to 500,000. More than many expected.
But did we see the true feelings of the nation, the ‘majority’ as the anti-cuts campaigners claim? The anger of a nation and the beginnings of a revolt, akin to the turbulence seen in the Arab world?
Well as I predicted the usual suspects, the parties with a vested interested and many with plenty of time on their hands… They turned up and made a lot of noise. And apparently a lot of the ‘anarchists’ were mighty upset by the end of the night, but it’s hard to say that the protesters as a whole were representative of anything wider than their specific groups, the groups I’ve previously identified.
Aside from the arrests, everyone went home quietly and not much has happened since. They haven’t built much momentum; it seems to have gone pretty quiet since then, no occupation of Trafalgar Square, no rising in the streets. In fact everything turned to the Royal Wedding and those people lined the streets. Protesting placards and revolutionary cries turned to flags and patriotic fervour.
London - 26th March
London - 29th April
Traditional Policing for the Royal Wedding
Controversial Methods for Anti-Cuts protests
There were two faces of the same country and you could examine the intricacies of the groups represented at these two events, but since then we’ve had a number of different and very significant votes; the local and regional elections and the referendum on electoral reform. As I mentioned in the last post; isn’t it these actions of democracy that represent the true feelings of the population at large? Of course it is, or at least, of course it should be…
If so many people are motivated to take to the streets and let their strong feelings be known, then surely they and so many more not quite as motivated, would make it to the ballot box?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/election2011/council/html/england.stm - Public opinion?
Well I’m sure Ed Miliband and so many others, will try to convince themselves that a significant statement was made by the electorate, but I’m not so sure. If the ‘progressive majority’ was heard in these elections, then it was by no means all of them…
Surely if there was as much anger as claimed, there’d be a movement for political change? But the movement for election reform was trounced in the referendum on the Alternative Vote, on a low turnout:
Although apparently the 41% turnout was higher than expected.
The fact is the Tory vote held up strongly in the local elections, considering the constant criticism of their cuts. Labour did well in England from a LibDem slump, but didn’t truly encroach on the Tories. In Scotland they lost heavily to voters who would never turn to the Tories, whether or not they really want independence in giving their support to the SNP. Only in Wales was support for Labour significant and even then this was more to the loss of Plaid Cymru as the Tories managed to make small gains and effectively stopped Labour from getting an overall majority. The Tories should be happy.
Labourites can talk about success at such a stage of government, only one year in, compared to previous governments. But these are political, economic and social circumstances never seen before. It’s like comparing the recent economic crash to the depression of the 1930s…
The LibDems are taking the hit by many of their former supporters or floating voters, for apparently going back on their word. And for their Leader being a snivelling wretch. Though I’d say Vince Cable is actually making a good fist of that role…
Voters had an opportunity to stick it to both parties of government, but they didn’t. In Scotland they stuck it to Labour and in Wales, they simply clung to what they know best… The areas in which Labour did well in the local elections are many of their former strongholds and areas going to be affected by cuts, similar to the picture in Wales. It’s Labour’s ineffective and incompetent government that led them to these current circumstances, but all they see is the t*t being taken away by the Coalition, so it’s a natural reaction…
If you consider that Labour have made gains from the LibDems, then it seems the polling wasn’t too different from the 2010 general election.
If we went for a general election, even with Labour ahead in the polls, on the evidence of these local elections, it would be very close and the Tories could take it, possibly. The First Past The Post system could certainly produce an anomaly on a close vote (it did in 2005) and give the Tories a majority. It’s a messed up system.
So what happened to reforming it? More to follow in the next post.
But what happened to the anger against the government? If I were in the Labour party or involved with the likes of UK Uncut, I’d be reminding people about the ballot box and how to get there…
Ed Miliband finding his way to the ballot box