Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Coalition Government Doesn’t Have a Mandate

As the Conservative party gathers for its Autumn conference in Birmingham this week, I think we can expect a torrent of self righteous speeches on the need to cut immediately and deeply into public spending. No doubt the unions will come in for lectures on not standing in the way of the democratically elected government, by mounting demonstrations and strikes.

Protests across Europe against cuts in welfare and public services are spreading, and although they have not in the main been supported by large majorities of union members and public, they are gaining momentum, before the cuts have been introduced proper. It is crucial that the unions carry the public with them, so they need to be careful about exactly what action they take, although to an extent strikes will be unavoidable, given the government’s rhetoric so far on the matter.

It is perfectly democratic for unions or anybody else to protest against these cuts, the government has so far been keen to liberalise on civil liberties, so they should not be hypocritical about union members exercising their rights. But more to the point, this government doesn’t even have a mandate to introduce cuts at the pace they are proposing. The Tories only received 36% of the popular vote at the general election, which did not yield an overall majority for them, so they are reliant on Lib Dem MP’s for a majority; but the Lib Dems did not propose cutting so quickly in their election manifesto, and have had to do a U turn since.

The excuse that is being used to justify this change of heart, is that events have changed, particularly in Greece, so a re think became necessary. But the same re think does not seem to have been demanded by events in Ireland, where their economy has slipped back into recession, and the government’s policies here, are in danger of causing our economy to double dip too.

Of course, this is all just spin. Politicians argue whatever suits them, and it suits the Lib Dems to be in government, ministerial limos and all, so they will say whatever justifies them continuing being in government. If the coalition had any honour, it would call another general election, and try to obtain a proper mandate, but this would decimate the Lib Dems in particular, so pigs will fly before any election is called.

So, just remember when you hear all those pious speeches from Tory delegates, that this government doesn’t have a democratic mandate for their reckless and ruthless cutting agenda.

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