2011 PROMISES to be a very busy year for newspaper photographers and camera wielding bloggers – with plenty of opportunities to capture both peaceful and violent protest as the true impact of Coalition Government cuts becomes clear.
Castle Point Borough Council is faced with a funding cut of some 30% over the next two years and, although a straw Canvey Beat poll found that residents back the government’s austerity measures: a further poll found that there was no appetite for a Council Tax increase to mitigate the size of the financial gap. If the Council is to court public opinion, it therefore has no choice other than to impose deep cuts on the services it provides.
Many other councils are likely to find themselves in similar situations and, with students and public sector unions indicating their intention to fight the cuts, 2011 now has all the hallmarks to become a year of political instability and civil unrest – just at the time when the UK remains on a high terror alert and cannot afford its police and security services to become distracted. Indeed, large scale marches and public riots are just the type of cover terrorists need to fuel unwarranted violence and undertake their suicidal attacks.
2011 promises to be a dangerous year. Dangerous for those caught-up in violent protest; dangerous for those police officers tasked with keeping the peace – and dangerous for reporters covering incidents at close quarters.
I wonder if it is all going to be worth it. The fact is that, despite all the hype, the Coalition’s cuts only go a small way towards rectifying Britain’s deep financial crisis – and many would say that the cuts do not go far enough. If Britons are to suffer a year of public protests, topping those made against the unpopular Poll Tax of Margaret Thatcher’s government, why engage in that civic battle when it is only to force through little more than a hasty cosmetic makeover?
There is little doubt that, this time, the Coalition has public opinion on its side – but will it be there again, in a few years time, should the government be forced to admit that its hard fought measures have been inadequate and more cuts need to be made?
That is the political danger that 2011 presents. The danger that this Coalition Government will fall due to a vote of no confidence – and the consequent danger that political anarchy will quickly follow in its wake…
… (Daily Express, 02/01/2011) – ‘Huge’ demo over government cuts