BBC Home editor Mark Easton believes Downing Street must be disappointed by the small scale of today’s strikes because, apparently, it shows that the government’s attempts to create an engaged citizenry is failing:
But if there is a surprise at the action today, it is that we haven’t seen more of it. And as I shall explain, I think for some in Downing Street, that is a bit of a worry.
When the budget cuts were announced back in 2010 there was an acceptance that austerity, once it started to bite, would be greeted by widespread public anger. Government unpopularity at this point in the cycle was a given and the big question was how the British population would make their fury felt…
My guess is that they imagined the pain of the cuts would wake people up to their democratic rights. While disagreeing with those who oppose their policies, of course, I suspect they thought this period in our politics might also represent an opportunity to rouse a populace that has come to regard itself as consumer rather than citizen.
Something tells me that if today’s strikes had been much bigger Easton would not have been claiming it as proof that the Big Society is working. Heads he wins, tails they lose. If he wants to see someone who is really disappointed in the level of protest, my “guess” is that he should look in the mirror.