In the latest issue of British Politics Peter Dorey shows that the electorate was opposed to every conceivable tax increase at the time of the general election by a large majority. Equally they tend to be opposed to specific cuts in public expenditure that affects them.
Listening to the vox pop from Oldham East and Saddleworth this morning, one interviewee was against the rise in university tuition fees but also against the rise in VAT. Another respondent wanted more spent on the NHS.
Unfortunately, every government that comes into office wants to reorganise the NHS, imposing big transition and disruption costs without necessarily improving the standard of patient care. What the Government has unfortunately been unwilling to tackle is a different model for delivering public health care: for example, competitive insurance provision as happens elsewhere in Europe.
What never seems to be mentioned in these discussions is the changing economic and political balance of power in the world. This is not the 19th century or even the early 20th century when Britain was top dog. Transitions to a new balance when there is no undisputed hegemon are not easy to manage.
As for the by-election, I think there will be a low turnout and Labour will hold the seat with an increased majority. This will encourage those in Labour who do not want to compromise with the electorate.