Today two polls from centre left organisations today suggest that the public are ready to back cuts in spending and will reject attempts by the unions to block them.
The think tank Demos released the results of a massive YouGov poll of 45,000 people, this is from the press release:
"Voters were turned off by Labour’s main election message
on pubic services, according to new polling evidence commissioned by the
independent think tank Demos, released today. The poll shows that
voters who deserted Labour at the last election felt Government spending
had reached or even breached acceptable limits and no longer viewed the
state as a force for good. Demos says Labour’s next leader needs to
support public sector cuts and embrace the Big Society agenda if they
are to be heard by the public."
Richard Darlington, Head of the Open Left project at Demos, said:
"While Labour has consistently argued that spending cuts should not go too far or too fast, this poll shows that a significant number of voters recognise the need for cuts. That includes many people who had recently voted Labour, many of whom felt that Labour was spending too much, too wastefully, with too little benefit for them and their families."
And the union-sponsored blog Left Foot Forward has found that the public oppose more powerful unions:
"As the graph below shows, Labour party members and the general public have a range of views on policy issues. The most stark differences are on the level of influence that trade unions should exert over Government policies. Net support (i.e. the difference between those who support and oppose a series of policy statements) among Labour party members for more powers is +36 per cent compared to -30 per cent for the general public."
That is good news for those of us who want to see ordinary taxpayers getting better value for money and the necessary cuts made to restore the public finances to health. But it is extremely bad news for unions planning massive strikes against necessary public sector cuts.
Guardian commentator Julian Glover has written today that this "is the moment for the coalition to rise above the yells of the left." There is no sense in the Government backing down on cuts now. That will invite disdain from voters who want responsible fiscal policy and suggest weakness to public sector unions who will take a mile if given an inch.
The unions need to reassess their position. There is still plenty of time to reconsider their attempts to fight cuts and play a more constructive role. If they step back for a minute, surely they can see that the public aren't with them and they are heading for an expensive defeat that will break their credibility?