As much as many commentators tried to spin the ConDem's polling statistics in a positive light, recent figures expose faultlines that are deepening rapidly.
A headline on the Politics.co.uk website declared “Poll shows coalition riding high after 100 days” whilst Hugh Pym, the BBC's chief economics correspondent, opined “Chancellor George Osborne has embarked on a rapid and ambitious programme of change.”
The honeymoon is over
But the reality is that support for the coalition has been declining rapidly. Many voters withheld their judgement from the start, but now “views are hardening up”, according to a YouGov analysis which compares ConDem support to Blair's New Labour administration in 1997.
Immediately after New Labour came to power 76% approved of the government's performance and 13% disapproved. One week after the ConDems came to power, 39% approved and 26% disapproved. ConDem support reached a peak at 48% five weeks later and then opinion began to nosedive. It took just over two months for ConDem support to sink to levels not reached by Labour in 3 years of falling opinion.
As of 24th August, approval ratings were evenly split at 40/40 but the next day the government's net approval rating (the amount of people who approve above and beyond those who disapprove) dropped below zero, to minus 2.
The cuts: who benefits?
Resistance to the cuts is clearly a strong factor in vanishing approval ratings and diminishing voter intentions. This has lead to Labour clawing back voters as Lib Dem support disintegrates to a dismal 12%. The gap between Conservatives and Labour is beginning to close at 41% and 39% respectively.
Support for the coalition is support for the cuts. As the effects of the emergency budget begin to be felt and October's spending review looms, the public are beginning to wonder exactly who has their best interests in mind.
It's quite clear that the banks have bounced back at the cost of public spending and to the detriment of the welfare state. In the City, the excess of bonus culture has returned whilst in government, Topshop mogul Sir Phillip Green has been hired to review the government's cuts and in education schools face privatisation under the class-biased Academies scheme.
The cost of the cuts
The ConDems “ring-fencing” of the NHS was a vital pillar in their election rhetoric but that has now turned out to be another lie. The “restructuring” of the NHS will cost around £3 billion, which is money spent on a process with no evidence of effectiveness, instead of providing vital services.
This teaches a vital lesson- where the government says “savings”, read “cuts”. The NHS has been asked to find up to £20 billion in “savings” (cuts) in the next few years and it's quite clear that this will translate into thousands of job losses- with a projected “worst case scenario” of 34, 000 posts cut by 2014.
Alongside this an estimated £11 billion will be cut from benefits, hitting pensioners, the disabled and working families the hardest. Furthermore, the National Housing Federation warns that £45 billion could be lost from the economy in the construction industry as the government slashes the housing budget. This will add hundreds of thousands of people onto waiting lists for council housing.
The need for resistance
As support for the ConDems diminishes and the impact of the cuts becomes increasingly catastrophic, people are beginning to look for an alternative. The space this opens up in the political arena will be contested by both the left and the right. The failure of the left to mobilise a mass movement against cuts and privatisation would be grossly negligent.
The call for a Coalition of Resistance announced by Tony Benn, Caroline Lucas and many others is a call for the left to unite and mobilise vast sections of wider society. With an attack on the welfare state more savage than those enacted by Thatcher, the cost of defeat will be huge. We have to act now and act fast.
A London-wide activists' meeting will be held the University of London Union (map), room 3a, 2nd September, 6.30pm with a national organising conference at The Camden Centre (map), 27th October, 10am-5pm.
Dan is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner. His most recent documentary was The New Scramble For Africa and his documentaries have appeared regularly on the Islam Channel. He is an organiser for Counterfire and a regular contributor to Counterfire site.
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