In the early years of the con-dem government public anger was rife and the fightback against the capitalist austerity program was visible and aggressive. There were riots in 2010 when the G20 summit was held in London, there were student riots also in the early part of the decade, increased poverty in a consumerist society played a major role in the 2012 riots and the public sector strikes were frequent. But since then the anger has subsided, the protests have decreased in size and regularity and people have begun to accept the status quo. But with the general election on the horizon and with considerable doubt surrounding its outcome could 2015 be the year that triggers the mass civil unrest that has been boiling under the surface for years now? With numerous possible outcomes to next years election what are the possibilities and what could they each mean for Britain?
I feel it is unlikely the tories will achieve a majority large enough to govern alone in 2015, however it is not impossible. And if they do achieve a majority government, freed from their coalition with the lib-dems the tories will be free to pursue a total ideological austerity program of tax rises and spending cuts that could make the past 5 years look soft. They will claim it is all in the name of deficit reduction, while those educated enough to question this will know a deficit is often beneficiary economically if investment is made in the right places, such as infrastructure. This is keynesian economics and it works. The post war Attlee government ran up a deficit 3 times larger than our current one by building houses, roads, creating the NHS and nationalising major industries. However, contrary to the tory taglines this was not a bad thing. The economic benefits of such investments actually meant that the debt was paid off rapidly, and that the original investments generated 3 times more money for the economy than they cost in the first place. Knowing all this and knowing that the austerity program is just a way of making the poor pay for the crisis of the rich, the trade unions are unlikely to stand for this. A tory majority in 2015 could well lead to mass public sector strikes and possibly even the first general strike since 1922.
Tory – UKIP coalition
If UKIP manage to claim 10+ seats in 2015 and the tories fail to win an overall majority then a coalition is likely as both the tories and lib-dems have ruled out a repeat of the current con-dem coalition. In this scenario all that is said above still applies, UKIP will support and even encourage a stringent austerity program. After all Nigel Farage said after the 2013 budget “The cuts are not going far enough. They need to be deeper. faster and nothing should be ring fenced.” But in addition to the tory program UKIP will insist on making immigration a priority and will certainly ramp up the anti-immigrant rhetoric in preparation for the 2017 EU referendum. This will harden the unions resolve to fight of course but it will also give confidence to fascist groups like the EDL and Britain first, leading to inevitable clashes on the street with anti-fascist campaigners and trade unionists. Their presence in whitehall will also infuriate the far left and will almost certainly lead to an increase in anti-establishment protests, which given the brutal policing associated with these events could lead to a riot in any area at any given time. All in all this possible coalition terrifies many of the radical minded left in Britain and if it comes to pass I predict it will at some point lead to civil unrest as the radicals will not take what will be seen as a far right government lying down. They will be forced to fight back.
If the labour party somehow manage to obtain a controlling majority in 2015 they will almost certainly attempt to ‘out tory the tories’ in an attempt to appear economically competent. They have already said they will stick to the con-dems spending plans for the first year. This will mean the unthinkable, austerity forced on us by a party funded by the unions… This will be a huge insult to the unions themselves and also to all those who have voted labour expecting a change and it will cause a backlash. With plans already in place for labour to divorce the unions, should they find themselves in power and making brutal spending cuts they will face and open war. The unions will fight them harder than they would the tories and mass strikes will be unavoidable. And should the economy take a nose dive the public will be instant in their condemnation of labour and widespread anger will spring up overnight. If labour were to lead us back into recession there will be uproar, and quite possibly even severe riots aimed at overthrowing them. This is a worst case scenario, but I believe one that is entirely possible.
In the likely event of a hung parliament all major parties will be looking to form coalitions and having already ruled out working with the disgraced lib-dems (assuming the lib-dems still have any MP’s in 2015) labours only real option would be a coalition with the SNP, who look set to take a majority of Scottish seats. However this is unlikely to provide enough MP’s for an overall majority so other smaller parties such as the greens and pliad cymru of Wales may be drawn in to make up the numbers. This theoretically looks like the most left wing government that is possible in 2015 and should it occur it will come under heavy fire from the off from the media. All that is stated above about a majority labour government still applies in this situation but with the added complication that their coalition partners too would oppose the austerity plans. This combined with media pressure from the right could well lead to a chaotic and incoherent government that will be under pressure from day 1. And again, as above, if the economy falls off a cliff the trouble will start. And with no strong leadership this coalition could well crumble leading to fresh elections. And should all this occur, if the country is left in recession and without a solid government civil unrest will grow exponentially and riots and strikes could be only the beginning.
Each of these scenarios has the potential to bring our country to its knees, but they also all have the potential to bring it back onto its feet and back onto the streets. None of the main parties represent the true needs of the working class and out of this injustice public anger grows. Whoever is in power come May 2015, all it will take to set off the powder keg of suppressed rage in Britain is one screw up too many. We as citizens no longer have rights, all we are given in life is a voice and a vote. We must use both for the greatest good we can. But when our voice and especially our vote can no longer change anything we have no alternative but to fight back. And the next government would do well to realise that, because soon it will be too late.