Building the opposition coalition….
Sunny Hundal writes about the letter published by Tony Benn in The Guardian launching the Coalition of Resistance to the ConDems cutbacks. Sunny is right that timing matters and that although the anger against cutbacks is slowly beginning to gather pace it is probably not at its peak right now and that a widespread campaign will have to wait until the right cuts have really bitten to gain momentum. However, in the timing sense that makes now the right time not to expect a mass campaign but to put the right infrastructure in place. In that sense I think the timing is just right because it can gather people too it and start building the right structures so that when anger starts to grow we are not caught flat-footed.
I would agree with Sunny that such a campaign needs to ‘get the middle-classes angry’ too; although still it should be built within the trade unions certainly. Doing so requires not just making the intellectual case against the cutbacks but showing in practice how they hammer the middle-classes as much as societies poorest because they do. Sunny is also right that the framing of the debate is important and we have to reach much beyond the ‘usual suspects’ although that is where we may start and there is no problem with that; there is also a case that some kind of positive alternative strategy needs to be put forward.
Although it is tempting purely to unite around a negative because that gives the best chance of a broad and far-reaching campaign one of the things we have to engage with is the fact that the middle-class groups Sunny talks about support some kind of deficit reduction; just not the kind that detrimentally affects them. Making the case for a growth-led deficit reduction could also appeal to the aspirations of these people something this government is mistakenly undermining. It is right that this campaign should *start* now because its future direction could well impact on how successful we are in protecting communities from the ideologically driven crusade of this government against the vast bulk of society.