Budget cuts in Britain lead to violent protests

Rick Moran
David Cameron's Conservative coalition government took the bull by the horns last month and announced cuts of  82 billion pounds - a massive attack on the British welfare state.

Predictably, the outcry from unions, and others affected has been something to behold. Time Magazine details the latest:

All the ingredients appear to be in place for a winter - and possibly even spring and summer - of unrest, as British students, workers and families start feeling the effects of the massive £82 billion ($148 billion) worth of cuts to public spending announced by the coalition government last month. There has already been a rash of strikes by subway train operators and firefighters, and trade-union leaders have been warning of more ahead, with some of the most militant talking in terms of national stoppages.Even finance minister George Osborne predicted at the time of his austerity announcement that the government would quickly become hugely unpopular because of the scale of the cuts needed to pay down the country's deficit. (See more about Britain's austerity plan.)

And then there's the lesson from across the Channel, where French students and unions have staged mass, often violent, protests against plans to increase the pension age - a seemingly trivial complaint compared to the pain about to be inflicted on the Brits through cuts expected to hit just about every family in the land.

When the French first began their protests in September, the question being asked by the British media was: "Why don't we riot as easily as the French?" On Wednesday they got the answer: "We can." In scenes reminiscent of the riots that hit central London in 1990 after Margaret Thatcher's government attempted to radically reform local taxation - and which helped end both the policy and her premiership - students took to the streets en masse.

Surprisingly, the bulk of the people seem resigned to doing with less. And unions, while not less radical than they have been in the past, are constrained by legislation passed in the 1970's that makes it harder for them to promote strikes and other actions.

No one knows what the future holds but it appears that outside of some malcontents, the people understand the mess they're in and while they may grumble, they appear at this point to accept the need for the draconian cuts.

GOP take note. Have a little courage. Trust the people. They're never as dumb as you think they are,


David Cameron's Conservative coalition government took the bull by the horns last month and announced cuts of  82 billion pounds - a massive attack on the British welfare state.

Predictably, the outcry from unions, and others affected has been something to behold. Time Magazine details the latest:

All the ingredients appear to be in place for a winter - and possibly even spring and summer - of unrest, as British students, workers and families start feeling the effects of the massive £82 billion ($148 billion) worth of cuts to public spending announced by the coalition government last month. There has already been a rash of strikes by subway train operators and firefighters, and trade-union leaders have been warning of more ahead, with some of the most militant talking in terms of national stoppages.

Even finance minister George Osborne predicted at the time of his austerity announcement that the government would quickly become hugely unpopular because of the scale of the cuts needed to pay down the country's deficit. (See more about Britain's austerity plan.)

And then there's the lesson from across the Channel, where French students and unions have staged mass, often violent, protests against plans to increase the pension age - a seemingly trivial complaint compared to the pain about to be inflicted on the Brits through cuts expected to hit just about every family in the land.

When the French first began their protests in September, the question being asked by the British media was: "Why don't we riot as easily as the French?" On Wednesday they got the answer: "We can." In scenes reminiscent of the riots that hit central London in 1990 after Margaret Thatcher's government attempted to radically reform local taxation - and which helped end both the policy and her premiership - students took to the streets en masse.

Surprisingly, the bulk of the people seem resigned to doing with less. And unions, while not less radical than they have been in the past, are constrained by legislation passed in the 1970's that makes it harder for them to promote strikes and other actions.

No one knows what the future holds but it appears that outside of some malcontents, the people understand the mess they're in and while they may grumble, they appear at this point to accept the need for the draconian cuts.

GOP take note. Have a little courage. Trust the people. They're never as dumb as you think they are,