Such is David Cameron’s complete lack of empathy for the ordinary British citizen that despite Wednesday seeing arguably the largest public sector strike since 1926, the Prime Minister still thought it wise to brand it “a damp squib”.

The expected outrage from Union leaders followed with Bob Crow, leader of the RMT, reacting  “Far from being a damp squib this was united action by trade unionists on a scale unseen in a generation and Cameron and his public school cronies ignore it at their peril.”

…is not sustainable…

That 2 million people saw fit to take industrial action certainly places Cameron’s comment in a ludicrous light and yet if the government does choose to ignore it, will this be at their peril as Crow suggests? 

What peril is going to overcome a government that has recognised the £26 billion a year that is spent on public sector pensions is not sustainable and are therefore urgently seeking to address the issue? 

…the government haven’t shown empathy towards the anger of many low paid public sector workers is baffling…

In fairness to the government, they are sticking to their election pledge to cut public spending together with the deficit. But the reason for this – to convince foreign markets that the UK can still borrow money at a low interest rate – means nothing to the majority of the UK population, and understandably so. 

There will always be a conflict when government fiscal policy affects the public in so direct a manner. It is irrefutable that these pension reforms cut a raw deal for the public, what would be the point in doing them, if they didn’t? Considering this, that the government hasn’t shown empathy towards the anger of many low paid public sector workers is baffling. If they want to alienate themselves more from society at large, they are certainly achieving that. 

…ensuring the security of their financial futures…

But the current economic climate is a harsh reality that cannot be ignored. It is very easy for Ed Miliband to criticise the government for the changes they are making, ensuring himself the support from a public whose concerns are not national fiscal policy, but putting food on the table, paying their bills and ensuring the security of their financial futures. 

If Labour were in government there is no doubt that they would be making similar cuts in a bid to avoid a debt crisis on the scale of Greece’s. Indeed, Lord Hutton, the former Labour work and pensions secretary, recently wrote a report for the current government in which he argues for reform. 

…creating a chasm between the necessities of responsible government and maintaining public support…

The stoicism or stubbornness of this government has been clear from its outset in pressing ahead with unpopular reforms, creating a chasm between the necessities of responsible government and maintaining public support. 

The RMT’s Bob Crow further reflects this when he says, “Cameron’s snide comments show that he and his millionaire Bullingdon boy colleagues have got more in common with a martian than they have with those on the front line of our public services.”

…aggression that can be seen in no light other than classism…

It appears that opposition to this government’s reforms has been underlined by an aggression that can be seen in no light other than classism. It would be an achievement if there were a successful challenge to the government over the next few years that didn’t require a condemnation of public school elitism to harness popular support. 

That said, it is hard to treat Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude’s attempts to convince people that they are getting a fair pensions deal when he himself sits on a personal wealth valued at £3 million.

 

About The Author

History undergraduate at King's College London. Main interests in diplomacy and international relations but also enjoy writing about home affairs.

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