by Heiko Khoo
grand celebrations for Queen Elisabeth’s Diamond Jubilee were a splendid
success. Despite miserable weather conditions on the day of the flotilla on the
river Thames, huge crowds turned out to wave at Her Majesty. There followed a
star studded pop concert in front of Buckingham Palace, and a parade through
the cheering streets to St Paul’s Cathedral for a religious service, then back
to the Palace for a balcony wave. This rounded off the events. Flags were
waved, songs were sung, copious quantities of food and alcohol were consumed
and we remembered 60 years of the British nation through the enduring presence
of our Queen.
Marx once wrote: “The tradition of all generations of the dead weighs like a
nightmare on the brain of the living.” These Regal occasions act as a central
emotional reference point in the formation of national memory. The general
socio-historical context is internalized through the personal experiences and
circumstances of people at the time of these events. This proliferates
everywhere in the brain by the firing and wiring of neural cells, the process
that generates long-term emotional memories. Queen Elisabeth’s Jubilee
celebration retrieved 60 years of episodic emotional states in the living
memories of the nation. In this way she literally got inside everyone’s head.
looking back at personal and national life, nostalgia is the dominant
sentimental response evoked by the retrieval of these memories. But, sadly,
being human entails death, and Her Majesty is slowly treading her weary path
towards this fate despite her good health and the excellent physicians at her
disposal. The big question after the Jubilee celebration is, can the
institution of the Monarchy survive the death of its Queen? Or to put it
another way, will King Charles III sit firmly on the throne?
marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 produced the biggest
monarchical spectacular the world had ever known. This fairy-tale wedding was
to turn into a nightmare for the Royal family as Charles and his entourage was
accused of callous mistreatment of the young Princess. Global media empires
exposed the lurid details of their miserable marriage and divorce. This Royal
celebrity drama succeeded to an unexpected extent. Diana’s weepy-eyed work for
the poor and the sick captured many hearts, as rampant material acquisition
dominated the world in the boom of the 1990s. When Diana was killed in a car
crash in 1997, this unleashed a perverse sense of global tragedy. Huge crowds
adopted the role of mass mourning as their mode of expression and turned in anger
at the Royal Family for their cold-hearted response. Oceans of tears flowed
from many millions of people watching this TV show.
moment this peculiarly idiosyncratic drama appeared to imperil the monarchy
itself as the bitter crowds gathered expecting an emotional expression from the
Queen. The masses wanted a common display of tears and sorrow and demanded that
the upper lip should twitch a bit, so as to look human. The man of the moment
was the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. His ingratiation with media and
celebrity culture made him the perfect candidate to produce a spectacular
funeral, one worthy of the madness that the media and circumstances conspired
to create. At the funeral Diana’s brother spoke rebellious words claiming that
Diana was a symbol of ‘selfless humanity’, ‘classless’ and a ‘standard bearer
for rights of the truly downtrodden’, a preposterous exaggeration of the
aristocratic charity work of this so-called ‘Queen of Hearts’.
the Royals did try to modernize as the wedding of Prince William and Kate
Middleton revealed. But, simultaneously, there is a social process of bringing
back the aristocracy and the privileged to the centre of power. For example,
recent research indicates that the traditional disproportionate influence of
Oxford and Cambridge graduates on politics and power has made a big comeback.
Pomp, ceremony and the magic of the Jubilee and the Olympics will bring Britain
to a new high where the nation unites in a way not seen for decades.
cannot but feel that, although romantic-revolutionary concepts of a glorious
regicide, or the storming of Buckingham Palace are but comic dreams – the
internal systemic cohesion of British capitalism will be far more profoundly
shaken by the death of Queen Elisabeth than many imagine.
has been lambasted in the Conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph for its
coverage of the Jubilee events. Their reporting was said to lack a sense of
occasion, be puerile, vacuous and focus too much on celebrity. The issue of
presentation certainly is a problem when an institution supposedly ‘above
emotion’ becomes the emotional focal point of the nation. Sing-songs by pop
stars (some, like Cliff Richard are nightmares in their own right), might seem
good ideas at the time, but simultaneously serve to further undermine Monarchal
should be admitted that Queen Elisabeth has splendidly performed the art of
being ‘Her Majesty’ as the incarnation of the Monarchy. Her distance from
politics, indeed from ‘opinions’ and the sense of above-ness that she
encapsulates, structurally supports the existing order in the widest sense,
though reinforcing tradition and incorporating and controlling impulses for
Williams chose the song Mack the Knife to perform at the Jubilee Concert. Its
lyrics are the haunting description of a notorious murderer and villain who
stalks the Streets of London dressed as a gentleman. It comes from a Theatre
play by Bertolt Brecht called the Three Penny Opera, which is a satire of Karl
Marx’s Capital. In the play, the poor of London take to the streets to disrupt
the Coronation of the Queen, an act that destabilizes the entire system.
Collective memory not only recalls the unity of Royal celebrations, but also
reconnects these memories to emotions of injustice, at the loss of innocence
and misplaced trust, when a people, or the ‘lower-orders’, feel wronged.
The Monarchy acts as
constitutional centripetal force unifying order in key institutions of the
state with conservative moral and intellectual values. The British police,
army, judiciary, church and government, all remain formally subject to the
hierarchy of this mystical authority and tradition, and surrounding the formal
hierarchies are psychological patterns of traditional authority and respect,
associated with this. Are these systems really so robust that their internal
cohesion will be unaffected by constitutional transformation? I suspect not.
The era of profound unrest that will follow the dawn of this age of austerity
will leave few stones unturned.
By Heiko Khoo
There is nothing like a Royal occasion
in Britain to bring out the underlying character of its society and
state. A vast army of television crews and photographers are swarming
around the epicentre of joy, Westminster Abbey. Days in advance, people
desperate to be part of this historic event arrived in tents at the
scene, waving Union Jacks (made in China) and wearing a certain glazed
look — the look of the happy servility of village idiots.
The awry-eyed subservience that is so
keenly generated by "so touching" an event as the marriage of Will and
Kate, conceals behind it societal power relations. When Prime Minister
David Cameron heard news of the marriage, he and his cabinet burst into
applause and thumped their fists on the table. Cameron and the other MPs
hope the event will distract from the social chasm that opens up, as
austerity is imposed on the working class to pay for the financial
Constitutionally, Britain remains a
nation stuck in time. It retains an ossified compromise between the
bourgeois and feudal powers. When King Charles 1st was beheaded in
Whitehall during the English revolution in 1649, the power of the rising
bourgeois class was not deeply enough engrained to sustain republican
rule. Thus the monarchy was restored in 1660 following the death of
Oliver Cromwell, even though many of the foundations of capitalist rule
This bourgeois-feudal compromise remains
incarnated in rituals and laws from medieval times. These serve to
sanctify a social order based on unearned wealth, privilege and power.
The British aristocracy owned nearly half the nation's land and derived
obscene wealth from its feudal titles.
The existence of the monarchy as the
head of state is by definition exclusive of all egalitarian rights and
principles, for no-one except a member of the Windsor family can become
the head of state. Unless you swear allegiance to the monarchy and their
family, you cannot serve in the armed forces, the police, the
judiciary, the Church of England, or as an elected member of parliament.
The British monarchy and their Lords
maintained dictatorial control over their own people for over a thousand
years. Rule by the sword backed by the mental tyranny of religious
mania, ensured that kings, queens and their entourage of titled
hangers-on, treated their serfs as sub-humans. It was therefore natural
that the much-revered Queen Elizabeth the First had no qualms in
offering her direct support to the birth of the English Slave Trade led
by Hawkins and Drake. The British Empire, based on sea-faring plunder,
robbery and enslavement of peoples and nations, provided a financial
cushion that sustained the enrichment of merchants and monarchs alike.
The British monarchy stems from 18th
century German royalty. Naturally, the "foreignness" exacerbated
animosity towards the royal family. Eventually their German ties forced
them to change their name from "Saxe-Coburg" to Windsor in 1917, as a
precaution against republican revolution. The millions who were sent to
die by their monarchs in trench warfare in the First World War developed
a healthy disdain for their "natural superiors". In Germany and Russia,
monarchies fell in the revolutionary wave that ended the war.
Britain's inegalitarian state structure
is based on an unnatural pre-modern ideology. It requires monarchical
"mystique", extravagant rituals, pageants and traditions to ensure its
perpetuity. Most of these "ancient traditions" were invented over the
last 150 years and were foisted on the populace, who simultaneously were
made to pay all the bills in gratitude.
The jittery reaction by the state to
anything that might disrupt the wedding reminds one of the
class-struggle comedy in Bertolt Brecht's "Three Penny Opera". In the
play the beggars of London demonstrate their misery at the royal
coronation. Peachum, the beggar king, warns the head of the police,
"You've forgotten what an immense number of poor people there are. When
you see them standing outside the Abbey it won't be a festive sight."
Any mood of national celebration
generated by the royal wedding circus, will soon give way to grumbling
from below at the contradiction between the ostentatious extravagance of
the privileged few, and their demand for frugality and sacrifice from
The author is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn
By Michael Roberts
The weekend in the UK was dominated by the ‘Royal Wedding’ of
Prince William (grandson of the current monarch Queen Elizabeth).
Around 20 million Brits apparently watched the ceremony on TV, but that
was probably because there was nothing else on all day on a special
What was striking about the occasion was the dress of all the male
appendages of the ‘royal’ Windsor family (formerly called Saxe-Coburgs –
as they are German in origin – they changed the name to remove any
association with Britain’s enemy in World War One, their cousin, Kaiser
Wilhelm). All the men wore military uniform of a particularly archaic
nature – all red, stiff and with lots of medals and swords. It should
remind you that the British monarchy has ruled over a militarist empire
for hundreds of years. And of course, the original role of a monarchy,
rulers by birth, before any form of bourgeois democracy, was to act as
the head of the state and that meant, the armed forces, the latter
ensuring the wealth and property of the ruling class.
British capitalism never threw off the anachronism of a monarchy –
although the bourgeois revolution of 1641-60 did achieve it for a
while. The monarchy (a ruling family) was used by the elite to try and
cement the people behind the ‘nation’ as a ‘neutral’ force above
politics. Of course, this was an illusion, but the monarchy was made
‘constitutional’ and ‘pomp and circumstance’ were promoted, particularly
in the hey-day of the British capitalism in the 19th century. Nearly
all the ludicrous military uniforms and protocols were invented in that
period to suggest some sort of stability for the nation to be embodied
in a ‘royal family’ and a House of Lords.
Those who support the idea of the monarchy in Britain like to make
two economic points to back it. First, they argue that all the
property, lands and income of the royals are actually owned by the
state, the democratically elected government. So the royals are just
serving the nation and are not wealthy. Second, that the cost of the
British monarchy is worth every penny, especially given all the tourist
revenue it pulls in.
It’s true that most (not all) royal residences are owned by the
state. But they are maintained at taxpayers expense. The whole Crown
Estate encompasses about 360 buildings including Windsor Castle,
Clarence House, St James Palace and parts of Kensington Palace. Many of
these properties are occupied on a ‘grace and favour’ basis by the
Queen’s private secretaries and other staff ie. for nothing or at low
rents charged by the Queen. Often monarchists claim the royal family
selflessly ‘surrendered’ this property back in the early 19th century.
But these properties were never ‘owned’ by the royal family but were
properties of the ‘monarchy’ or the feudal state. Indeed the Queen’s
great grandfather, George III, ‘gave’ this royal property to the
government only to get taxpayers to pay to maintain them.
The Crown Estate is a huge portfolio of property in London like
Regent Street, Piccadilly and the Park Lane sites of The Four Seasons
and Intercontinental hotels. 12,000 tenants are paying rent on 560
square miles of land across England and Wales. The estate even includes
all UK coastal waters within 12 miles of land, where energy companies
are increasingly paying to construct wind farms. Valued at $12 billion.
Last year the Crown Estate alone generated $342 million. But, as with
virtually all these royal assets, that cash went straight to the UK
government. In return, the taxpayer pays the Queen and other royals a
fixed, annual allowance.
There’s one exception. The UK government still hands the Queen income
from the smaller of the two property portfolios. Last year she received
$21.8 million from the so-called Duchy of Lancaster. Taxpayers also
give Elizabeth Windsor an annual allowance of $23.3 million for
performing 360 engagements a year as Head of State. Taxpayers also pay
the Queen $25.9 million in expenses to maintain her palaces. $6.4
million towards the Royal Train, helicopters and jets. And an additional
$6.4m towards other costs, like State Visits. In total, each year the
Queen gets $83.8 million from the government and the estates. It’s
widely assumed Elizabeth also receives a multi-million dollar income
stream from her private portfolio of stocks and bonds.
And that’s just the Queen. Her son and heir, Price Charles is much
richer. As Elizabeth’s first male son, Charles instantly became heir to
the throne at birth and inherited a property portfolio currently worth
over one billion dollars: 200 square miles of land known as the Duchy of
Cornwall. Last year, that estate generated $28 million in cash for
Charles. The government does not own this estate. Charles actively
manages it. The Queen can lay personal claim to a country house in
Sandringham, a few stud farms, Balmoral Castle in Scotland and her
father’s stamp collection. Forbes says that’s worth $500 million. So
the Windsors are billionaires in their own right and yet receive
handouts from the taxpayer every year.
Still if the cost of the British monarchy to the taxpayer is about
$85m a year, that’s just $3 per household. That sounds cheap,
considering the supposed benefit to the UK economy from people visiting
Royal palaces from abroad and spending dollars in the UK and royals like
Prince Andrew acting as ‘ambassadors for Britain’ abroad (ho,ho). But
that cost is a serious underestimate. It excludes the loss of revenue
that the state incurs from forgoing various taxes and the cost to local
authorities of policing and other administration for the royals. If
you include the lost revenue from the estates that the royals receive
income from directly, the total annual cost is closer to $300m a year,
or $10 per household. That more than matches the likely extra tourist
revenue raised from foreigners coming to gawp at the changing of the
guard in Buckingham Palace.
Monarchists argue that this cost would still have to be incurred if
Britain were a republic as you would need a president or head of state
and they don’t come cheap either. Look at the cost of presidency in the
US. The official budgeted cost of the White House is $110m a year,
only slightly more than the British monarchy but with five times the
population and eight times the GDP. But the Brooking Institution
reckons that excludes lots of other costs, including helicopters, the
press and communications operation, the secret service etc. If you
include all this, you can tot up an annual figure of $1500m, or about
$10 an American household, similar to the real cost of the British
monarchy. But it’s not like for like.
Even so, I’m sure the founding fathers of the American republic,
those great bourgeois revolutionaries, would blanche at the cost of the
American presidency, but even more at the venality of Congress. They
stood for cheap government. At least the bourgeois republic had that
aim even if the development of American empire put paid to that. But
the British monarchy has stood as an expensive and unnecessary
excrescence on British people for centuries.
And it remains with hidden constitutional powers. Supposedly, the
British monarchy is constitutional ie it cannot say or do anything
political and on behalf of the state unless directed by the government
of the day. But that is not entirely true. The Queen still has the
constitutional power to dissolve the British parliament and could rule
on her own through what is called the Orders in Council, a council made
up of appointed politicians. And the monarchy is still the
commander-in-chief of the armed forces (like the elected US president).
In theory, the British monarchy could rule and enforce its rule without
Of course, if the Queen were to dissolve parliament unilaterally, it
would provoke a major constitutional crisis. It would propose
dictatorship. But that does not mean it could not happen. In 1975 in
Australia, the governor-general of Australia (the Queen’s representative
in that county, which still recognises the Queen as its monarch)
dissolved the Australian parliament without consulting the then Labour
prime minister Gough Whitlam. This constitutional coup was designed to
get more amenable conservative government into office in an election, a
purpose that succeeded.
The wealth and income of the British royal family is one thing, the hidden dictatorial power of the British monarchy is more.
by Iain Case
Around half a million people marched through London yesterday in the biggest demonstration seen in the UK for many years. This
was the first protest against the Coalition Government that brought
together workers and students, and exceeded all expectations in the
turnout. There was a massive presence from rank-and-file trade unionists and young people.
feature of the day’s events was a further development in the militant
consciousness of young people and students. Walking round the West End
of London through the afternoon and evening, I was struck by the anger
and fearlessness of these youth, and the development of their class
awareness and tactical approach.
At first Banks and businesses
identified with the financial crisis and tax avoidance were targeted,
including TopShop, CitiBank, multiple branches of HSBC and so on. As the
afternoon developed, targets became more class-oriented: The Ritz hotel
was attacked, a Porsche showroom, and finally the Queens Grocers
Fortnum and Masons was occupied and ransacked.
The Youth have
developed a highly mobile strategy in response to Police ‘kettling’
tactics, moving at high speed through the town with the Police trailing
behind trying to keep up. The evening ended with a stand-off in
Trafalgar Square, where the Police kettled a large group of angry
students and youth, making over 200 arrests.
A feature of these
events is that the anger and fearlessness of the youth, and their
increasing self-organisation. The sects and ‘official’ left have no
answers for these young people, who increasingly feel they have nothing
to lose. The danger is without leadership and direction they will be
dissipated and defeated. The Left must rise to this challenge, build
bridges to these groups, address their concerns and rapidly adapt to
fast moving events.
TUC March For The Alternative
by Ryan Bygrave
am a 14 year old school student. Today I attended TUC’s March for the
Alternative, my first march. My mother is a member of Unison trade
union. My father joined the labour party at the age of 17 and has always
been a dedicated socialist. He wrote for a Socialist newspaper, The
Militant. He was on the previous largest union organised march (as well
as many others) and he accompanied me today. As my Mother works for the
NHS she has already experienced first hand, the damaging blow of the
cuts. I followed the student protests very closely and was very inspired
by the uproar from the student community over the rise in tuition fees.
If the government continue with these cuts, I fear that this will have a
detrimental effect on my further education and my ability to find work.
The cuts are hitting hard on training schemes, therefore making it a
lot harder to get a job.
wanted to go to March For The Alternative today to stand and be
counted, against the Con-Dem government. I wanted to be part of the half
a million strong crowd to show my anger and frustration with the
government and how they are planning to deal with the deficit. Today
there were more people than I have ever seen before, all marching for a
common cause. Men, women, children, whites, blacks, Asians, pensioners
and disabled people all filled the ranks for our march on Hyde Park.
Despite heavy police presence, people walked with great confidence. The
general mood of the march was like a carnival. The deafening roar of
vuvuzelas showed the positive and vibrant mood of the march. Past
Trafalgar square, many protesters changed the scene of this historic
monument. The lions of Nelson’s column were surrounded by many thousands
of singing protesters, completely changing the iconic location of
London. The weather started off quite warm along the embankment,
reinforcing the positive mood of the march, however as the day went on
the heavens began to open. Yet even not rain and wind could dampen the
hearts of the workers united! In Hyde Park there were a variety of
speakers, however I believe that Dave Prentis was the most effective of
the speakers. He made it clear how the rich and the bankers were to
blame for this deficit and that they should be the one’s paying for it.
Also he was the only speaker that managed to touch on the future. He
described what was next for the movement. He said that marches shall
continue and grow and strikes will begin to appear nationwide. Talking
about what was next was something Ed Milliband failed to touch on.
actions have inspired me to see the next chapter in the working class’s
struggle and I shall definitely be attending the next march.
I believe that today was a success. It sent out a clear message, the
British working class shall not stay silent. They shall not mindlessly
go along with something that is so blatantly unfair to the working class
and above all, they shall not be stopped.
Article by Heiko Khoo, published first on China.org.cn
The British elections produced a hung parliament with the Conservatives
as the largest party and Labour the second largest party. The expected
rise of the Liberal-Democrats failed to materialise despite opinion
poll forecasts. The election marks the end of an era of 13 years of
On the plus side, Labour devolved
power to Wales and Scotland, and secured an end to violent conflict in
Northern Ireland. They introduced tax concessions for working families
and significantly increased public spending on healthcare, childcare
and education. However, they did this in a happy, upward phase of
economic expansion. Tony Blair, who led the Labour party until 2008,
attempted to "modernize" the party in a branding campaign that emulated
the marketing of soap powder. New Labour
replaced Old Labour
socialist ideals of public ownership and egalitarianism were jettisoned
in favour of appealing to the aspirations of the middle classes and the
interests of the financial elite. The working classes represented by
the trade unions remained largely passive throughout Labour's period in
office. The economy expanded, employment levels were healthy, and a
sense of confidence exuded from the new elite.
The new millennium was used to place
Britain at the centre of the new optimism, "Cool Britannia" represented
fashion, music, tradition, progress, humanitarianism, modern caring and
entrepreneurial capitalism tinged with social democratic welfare
values. The era of New Labour was also the era of the Internet as a new
mode of communication. Simultaneously we saw the birth of new
television formats, aimed at entrancing mass audiences in the
voyeuristic observation of peoples behaviour in enclosed and stressful
environments. Some were locked in "the Big Brother house", or on a
"tropical island", or placed in scenarios where a rich person lives
with a poor family. Often the TV audience was asked to "vote for
someone" to be kept in, or expelled. This was also the era of Lord of
the Rings and Harry Potter. Fantasy worlds gripped the attention of
millions, till the attraction of the format wore thin, audiences
dwindled, and a new style had to be found.
Britain fought three major wars;
Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, and Iraq 2003. The Yugoslav war was
the least controversial. It was both an air-war and a media war, in
which the British government systematically embellished the tragedy of
Kosovo to implicate Yugoslavia in "genocide" and "mass murder".
Opposition to the war was muted. A "bad guy" had been beaten, so the
ends justified the means in public perception. The war was presented as
a new form of humanitarian intervention. Many disagreed, arguing that a
NATO "spin machine" was concealing a new form of imperialism.
Internet investments promised untold
potential through realising smart ideas. Venture capitalists threw
billions at operations that had zero sales and zero assets. The economy
wandered into fantasy terrain. The dot com crash in 2000 was followed
by a massive expansion of low cost credit, fuelling further investments
in mythically valued products. Although the attack on New York in 2001
caused intense anxiety, the US government relaxed credit to sustain
confidence and continue the economic boom. The rapid conquest of Kabul
and the dazzling technology deployed, seemed to reinforce faith in the
leadership of the USA and Britain.
Bank lending lost its connection to
real assets. For the much of the general population in Britain,
salaries and expenditure were no longer directly correlated. Property
ownership seemed to function like a magical cash machine fitted into
the walls of your home. People bought houses because prices were
rising, prices rose because people bought houses, a perfect bubble was
pumped up and floated hypnotically in the air. From morning till night
television programmes reinforced the vision that every British subject
starts as a property owner, goes on to become a developer, and then
flourishes as a speculator. Those who said the king has no clothes were
laughed at and disparaged.
The war in Iraq was profoundly
unpopular in Britain. Tony Blair faced huge demonstrations in London,
one of which was more than a million strong. To neutralise opposition
to the impending war, a dazzling array of threats was woven into a plot
that linked the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, to Bin Laden and to
imaginary chemical, bacteriological, biological and nuclear weapons.
When the war broke out, victory appeared to come rapidly and protests
dwindled. However, over years, the insurgency in Iraq whittled away at
the illusions generated in the first days of conquest. Bombs in London
in July 2005 reinforced the sense of failure.
In June 2007, Blair resigned as Prime
Minister and anointed Gordon Brown as his successor; in doing so he
handed over a poisoned chalice. Brown's reputation was based on his
role as finance minister. He tried to appeal to disillusioned Labour
party supporters, claiming adherence to "Old Labour" values. But his
dour public persona, his unwillingness to call an immediate election,
and the economic Tsunami that was the great recession of 2007-9, all
conspired to undermined his position. He was never able to produce a
genuine smile during his entire tenure as Prime Minister.
When British mortgage lender Northern
Rock was found to be insolvent, the wave of property speculation ended
as small investors queued up to withdraw their savings. Fearing a run
on all banks, Brown nationalised Nothern Rock. Soon afterwards he
played a key role in the rescue of the international banking system
following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. But the public anger caused
by the economic collapse meant Brown received no electoral credit for
Then news broke that politicians had
been claiming expenses from the taxpayer for such things as
pornographic downloads and fictitious housing costs. The public were
enraged. An economic era had come to an end, house prices began to
fall, salaries and pensions became more important than the resale price
of houses, and credit became hard to get. Employment prospects
worsened, so people cut back on spending. Television stations ceased
commissioning programmes that encouraged everyone to engage in
speculative housing investments. The great recession engulfed British
The 2010 election campaign appeared at
first to take on the character of a television spectacle. The leaders
of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats held three debates
in a format to designed to suit the era. Endless polls predicted a huge
surge in support for the Liberal leader, Nick Clegg. He claimed to
represent "change" in the mould of Barack Obama. However, on the day,
the electorate voted primarily for the Conservatives or the Labour
party. "Old Labour" in the form of urban working class voters, thwarted
an outright Conservative victory.
All three parties advocate cutbacks to
clear the huge deficit caused by the bailout of the banks. But none has
prepared the public psychologically for the scale of cuts in social
spending that will be introduced. We will certainly see bitter
resistance from public sector trade unions. Despite an "in principle"
acceptance of the need for austerity measures, the reality of a fall in
living standards over several years means any government will struggle
to maintain social peace. Britain is entering an era of austerity,
increasing class divisions and social discontent. The era of "Cool
Britannia" and the rising middle classes seems like a distant memory.