Why haven’t there been riots about endless austerity? That may be about to happen

One of the most remarkable facts about the British public’s attitude to prolonged austerity is the lack of the kind of open revolt which has been seen in so many other countries.   In Greece it has led to the dramatic rise of Syriza under the dynamic leadership of the radical Tsipras who now has a poll rating ahead of all the other parties, including the government.   In Spain the resistance led by originally the indignados has crystallised into a new party named Podemos which was formed only 10 months ago, but now is equally challenging the government.   In Italy the prime minister Renzi has achieved the highest rating for his Democratic Party (39%), but second is the party of the comedian Beppe Grillo in the mid-20s%, well ahead of Berlusconi’s Forza Italian on 15%.   So where is the equivalent in the UK?   UKIP hardly counts as a serious alternative to government, though both the SNP in Scotland and the Greens in England could be seen as in the initial stages of a challenge to the main parties, significantly both from the Left like Die Linke in Germany.   The dramatic rise of almost all these movements have been sparked by deep public resistance to austerity.   So why not in the UK?  It may be about to happen.

The recent Populus poll found that the readiness among British voters to accept more austerity is evaporating.   Most don’t believe that more austerity and cuts will be needed in the next 5 years after the 2015 election which would present quite a headache for the Tories if they win the election, given Osborne’s declared determination to impose another £25bn cuts after 2015.   Voters have apparently been bemused by Cameron’s recent assertion  that the worst was now over and most of the cuts had already been made, a claim wildly at variance from reality when Osbornian austerity has hardly reduced the deficit at all and it’s still not only set at around £100bn for this year but actually rising, not falling at all.

The survey found that most voters believe any remaining deficit reduction can be achieved by an efficient government cutting waste, without any serious impact on ordinary people – again sharply contradicted by the reality that the easiest cuts have already been made, so that any future cuts will be much harder and more problematic.   Yet 28% of those polled said further cuts would not be needed at all.   Significantly also very large majorities favoured a crackdown which would not directly affect themselves – on tax avoidance, bankers’ bonuses, a mansion tax, and excess profits on utility groups.   When and if they find out that the contrary is heavily to the fore, we can expect that the dam behind which the resistance is mounting will finally collapse.


10 thoughts on “Why haven’t there been riots about endless austerity? That may be about to happen

  1. Whereas people living around the Mediterranean are traditionally volatile and vociferous, the British have always been much more quiet and reserved….. until roused; rather like a sleeping dragon. There are signs that this phase may already have begun, although generally ignored by the media, and especially the BBC news. No riots (as yet) but some extremely large and well organised demonstrations, so the ‘dragon’ is awakening. Traditional British values, of fair play and ensuring the vulnerable are looked after, still hold.

    I suppose it’s up to Labour and a few other organisations to drum home the reality of what the Tories intend to do, should they remain in power. I can’t see the media doing a good job on this, and in any case lots of people don’t buy newspapers and not everyone has a computer, and even many of those who do, don’t take an interest in politics! No wonder we haven’t had a revolution – ignorance and apathy abounds here, although I think the message is slowly starting to get through.

    My own little Facebook Group is gaining new members every day and people who weren’t much interested in politics, ( I was one of these until quite recently), are now becoming angry and better informed. Very many people want to see the back of this heartless government, especially those who have been hurt by their policies, or are aware of how they’re hurting the vulnerable, and those who aren’t too sure who they’ll vote for are being pointed in Labour’s direction!

    I can’t see a new party springing up here in time for the General Election, so although UKIP and the Greens will probably get more votes than they ever had before, I’m sure that voting Labour is the only realistic way of ridding the country of this horrible Tory government, and I’m doing my best to spread this message as far and wide as possible.

    The people who have been hit the hardest are really struggling just to survive, so aren’t inclined (or even can’t afford) to get informed and involved. Hopefully they too will somehow get the message that their lives would improve under Labour, as that’s where millions of votes could come from. It really is up to the party to ensure that their message gets across to those at the very bottom and to regain peoples’ trust.

    Of course, Labour also has to clarify what they stand for, especially when it comes to austerity and the economy. “New Labour” became unpopular when Tony Blair got us involved in wars, and many people are still very angry at this. So Labour has to re-invent themselves as a party that truly represents and understand the people and their problems, and convince them that they have solutions to them and, as you’ve said before, give them “hope,” which is very much needed.

    However I fear that the Tories may already have damaged the economy to such an extent that it’ll be very difficult for Labour to put things right within just a few years. I hope that won’t be the case.

    PS One of my Italian cousins tells me they’re taxing wages and pensions at 60% over there.

  2. “As people get more desperate, history suggests that they’re not going to rise in a mighty proletarian tidal wave and wash away their oppressors. They’re gonna turn on each other.”

    “While the revolution will be certainly televised, it strikes me that there is a strong possibility that the revolution will also be crowd-funded.”

    Alan Moore

    Also of course the current state of British socialism is far from encouraging of protest, decent or objection, particularly so for anyone who is unemployed or disabled as it can be used as additional grounds for having their benefits suspended, even without the draconian anti terror laws:



    Claimant Assaulted By G4S Guards At Southampton JobCentre:


    (The above video footage of a claimant being assaulted has now been removed.)

  3. Another reason, (people who never been in middle of rioting talk far to easily and glibly about it,) is that after the riots here of 10 years, most people round here who have had that direct personal experience of serious and widespread rioting, (encouraged and to some extent coordinated by far right political forces from outside the area,) are in no hurry whatsoever to repeat that experience.

  4. Hum we got the unions who seriously looking at labour to change back from little tories to full labour people but yes there is a alternative started up not many members. At the moment a round a few thousand but risen yes unions could put their own labour people forward but this is now in eds hands will he pull the party back from the brink has this is whot it is for this party taking so far right you couldnt decide who who between partys yet he has that one chance you for get boris has bought those water cannons ready for the riots has you got ethnic cleansing going on in london getting out the poor people yet there may be those who will rise up it only takes one guy to blow it al apart you see you can deceive the electorate alot but they will wake up to the fact that parliament is being run by crooks who put their own companies into taking from the tax payers pot hum I wonder how much longer before those water cannons are brought out

  5. Labour need a strong leader to get the masses on their side. Milliband was shouted down by a so called “singer”. George Galloway would have chewed her up and spit her out. Milliband is too nice for the hurley burley of politics, rather like Sergeant Wilson in Dad’s Army. There is no need for a revolution on the streets, just a “street fighter” to take on the ConDems.

  6. One answer to your original question of “why haven’t there been riots” here, could perhaps be found in Hong Kong. According to the BBC News, it would seem that the most destructive rioters there were being paid by the Chinese authorities to discredit the protestors.

    So, perhaps if someone paid the people who are unhappy at what our government is doing, they’ll be tempted to riot over here? Lots of people could do with a few extra bob, especially as Christmas is coming!

    Or perhaps they’re just biding their time to the next election, which fortunately isn’t all that far away.

  7. Wanda: Wales traditionally has adopted the Dragon as it’s symbol, and – although English, I can assure you that the Welsh are not people who back away from a fight – I have persona experience of this. Anne Robinson may enjoy making fun of the Welsh but I very much doubt that she has ever set foot there, otherwise she would not have suggested that they be consigned to Room 101.

    Whilst in Wales many years ago, visiting friends, in one day I stayed with one family and experienced: skeet shooting with a pump action shotgun at my friends own shooting range, cave diving with my own aqua-lung in the Breckon Beacons, a head on car crash on the way back, snorkelling around Swansea Mumbles coast, whisky drinking in one of the local pubs, and while waiting in a car in a Welsh Town with a friend of my friend, we both were surprised to see my friend being pushed out into the street by someone in a takeaway food restaurant. My Welsh friend had a reputation for being a troublemaker but my opinion was that the people who picked a fight with him were just bored and wanted to impress their friends by picking a fight with one of the toughest men in the area. My friend was an ex-miner who was also a member of the local Cave Diving Rescue service. It is strange how the best in our society are often targeted by the weakest. It goes without saying that the person who picked on my Welsh friend didn’t fair too good, and at least the Police realised that my Friend didn’t start the fight, but they understood that he sure finished it.

  8. Conrad – I think I had the dragon in The Hobbit in mind, rather than the Welsh! Haven’t you seen the film?

  9. For some reason my gmail had stopped this blog coming into my until today. No idea why it stopped it.

    No riots about austerity because people in this country cannot come together. They are pretty selfish and to busu watching reality programme and eastenders and other crap on tv. The way the disabled, poor and seriously ill in this country were treated by the tories is proof of the selfishness. That is when the riots should have started.

    As for Labour, they are no better than the tories. Tony Bliar was the conservative party in red. I am a Labour Party member but I will not be in voting in this General election or any other. Whoever the govt is will help us anymore than other govts. The civil servants run westminster. Yes Prime Minister the great comedy shows you that, and the Civil Servants are run and owned by the lobbyist businesses such as Banks. We live in a corrupt country. I hear the word democracy but there is none. When have the people in this country had a say in policies and legislation? We are no better than russia and all the other countries the uk govt slags off.

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