Strikes, protests, public sector pay freezes, a contentious pact with the liberal party and one of the worst winters for decades – the end of 2010 is bearing more than a passing resemblance to the troubles of 1979. Can some good old Christmas cheer wash away the unsettling atmosphere, or is this our generation's winter of discontent?
If you have tried to travel anywhere in the last week you will be well aware of the chaos that the snow has brought to the country. Airports have closed, railway lines have frozen and roads have gridlocked.
As well reeling from the sheer embarrassment that Britain could come to such a standstill, people have been looking to the government to take control of the situation. Unfortunately this is where David Cameron's 'Big society, small government' ideology falls down. It's all very well people taking charge of their own communities but when a crisis hits, there needs to be strong central organisation.
The privatisation of the rail, buses and airports (a legacy left by previous Conservative rule) hasn't helped. As public limited companies focused on turning a profit, they are much more worried about pleasing their shareholders than investing in any useful pieces of snow clearing equipment.
But of course, they are happy to increase their fares. Some rail season tickets will rise by up to 10 in public opinion over the Conservatives in November 1978 which swung to a 20% lead for conservative by February 1979. Three months later Thatcher stormed to victory. The current coalition may have longer to repair this winter's damage but with many people publically dropping their support for the Lib-Dems in recent weeks, they have a lot of work to do.
A repetition of those dark days in 1979 is unlikely and despite the grim outlook, we are still a long way off the winter of discontent. However, if the media are looking for a new catchphrase for 2011, the winter of distrust, disappointment or dissatisfaction could all fit the front pages nicely.
By: Emma Jayne Jones
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