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Everything to play for In the wake of the TUC congress, Martin Smith argues that the conditions are ripe for a fightback, while Mark Campbell reports from the conference floor

In the same week as the TUC congress, firefighters took to the streets in London

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The overwhelming decision of delegates at this year’s TUC conference to support coordinated action to fight the austerity measures and to call a national demonstration against the cuts in March 2011 means the battle lines are now drawn. On one side you have a nasty but clearly nervous Con-Dem government. It’s worth reminding ourselves that this government has been in office for just five months and support for it and its plans to make the working class pay for the crisis is fast ebbing away. Polls conducted during September show support for the Tories at 39 percent, just two points ahead of Labour, while the Lib Dems are in meltdown on just 14 percent. More importantly, the coalition is losing its argument about its programme of cuts before it has even announced them, let alone implemented them. The latest Populus polling shows three-quarters of the public oppose

both the scale and speed of the planned cuts. The idea of supporting industrial action is also growing. A survey conducted by the Sunday Times revealed that while 45 percent of the public would oppose trade unions taking strike action against job cuts in the public sector, 35 percent would support strike action and a further 20 percent were undecided. When the survey is broken down by how the person voted in the last election, it shows 60 percent of Labour voters support strike action. One Tory commentator stated that the numbers supporting the idea of strike action were “worryingly high”. As Seumus Milne wrote in the Guardian on 16 September, “When you have champions of financial rectitude such as the International Monetary Fund and OECD warning of the international risk of an ‘explosion of social unrest’ and arguing for a new fiscal stimulus if growth continues to falter, it’s hardly surprising that tensions in the cabinet over this Socialist Review | OCTOBER 2010 |15

9/10/10 18:46:00