Less than two weeks ago, I did my weekly roundup post with a very heavy heart. Slammed about the place like cripple-flotsam, we'd been fobbed off and stonewalled at every turn.
This week however, Suey liked very much.
To say the government wobbled would be an understatement. Firstly, Andrew Lansley tried to make a case for his NHS reforms in the Guardian and not one single comment supported him! It was a sight to behold. Tories, Lefties, Libs, Doctors, Nurses, Carers, GPs and Patients all told him what they thought. The comments were so universally damning that they became news in their own right. Along with a raft of scathing press from the Mail to the Telegraph, his reforms look very shaky indeed.
Suddenly, by the end of the week, it all came at once. A letter, written by 88 senior LibDem criticised the speed and scale of local authority cuts, FINALLY putting a voice to all the grassroots LibDems who'd been so silent for so long.
As if to legitimise this criticism, 6 councils won a high court challenge to Michael Gove's decision to scrap projects under the Building Schools for the Future fund. He must now go back over the decisions "with an open mind." The judge ruled that in 5 out of the 6 challenges, the decision was so unfair as to result in an "abuse of power". Surely many other school projects will now mount legal challenges of their own?
After endless pleas from the voluntary sector and the Citizen's Advice Bureau, the coalition have been forced to announce £27 million pounds to ensure that people continue to get face to face advice on debt and other legal issues after the government scrapped the Financial Inclusion Fund, leaving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people with nowhere to turn at all.
Forests have been given a reprieve after an explosion of outrage at the government's plans to sell off our woodland. Gone, but not forgotten, at least the policy is "under review" and protesters scent victory.
In Scrounger news, Iain Duncan-Smith finally apologised for the tone of DWP rhetoric on Welfare Reform. He admitted that his department were "wagging their fingers" and "stigmatising" people on benefits as committing fraud despite their innocence. After numerous complaints to the Press Complaints Commission and Parliamentary Standards, it seems campaigners like myself and the Broken of Britain might just be getting through. Just a little bit.
Underpinning it all were the extraordinary events in Egypt. Through sheer determination and unity, the Egyptian people showed the world that people can come together - Christian and Muslim, military and civilian - to claim their own democracy. Peacefully but doggedly, in just over two weeks, a country that had been ruled by an oppressive dictatorship for 30 years, took to the streets and stayed there until they won the right to decide their own futures. Regimes around the world and particularly in the Middle East, must be shaken to the core, wondering who will be next? Campaigners here in the UK took great heart in knowing that protest can be effective. My favourite factoid from the whole event is that Mubarak finally stepped down 21 years to the day after Nelson Mandela was freed from goal.
When the coalition formed, I made a few predictions :
1) The cuts were beyond comprehension. Nothing on the scale Osborne is now attempting had ever been done before and I predicted that when they truly became clear, there would be chaos. What's more, I have always doubted that they will reduce the deficit.
2) The cuts would not in fact be the downfall of this government - incompetency would be. Gove's rail-roading and la-la-land "free schools", Lansleys ham-fisted NHS privatisation, cutting police numbers in the middle of a recession, forcing millions of the sick and disabled off benefits at a time of high unemployment.... I could go on all day. It's a car crash.
3) The economic recovery would not go well under Osborne's austerity plans. I said from the start that we wouldn't really see the effects of his ideological rampage until the second quarter of 2011, but the 4th quarter GDP figures of 2010 shook economists and gave a very worrying indication of the future.
4) Finally (and this is the risky bet) that the coalition would fall apart in 2012. When something looks unlikely, or unsustainable, it usually is and soon, we'll see the AV referendum and May local elections on the agenda. There is little evidence to show that these will go well for the LibDems and with their jobs on the line and the prospect of a rout at the next General Election, I find it hard to see how - or more to the point why - the Lib Dems would continue to prop up a Tory party that makes Maggie look like Mother Theresa.
So there we are. Cards on the table, bets placed. with a few more spins of the wheel and many more weeks like this one, we might not have to wait 5 years to end the destruction of UK PLC after all. I'm sure any Tories or Libs reading will dismiss this as partisan nonsense, but my great love is strategy and living through 13 years of Labour in power made me very good at knowing when it was head-in-hands time and when I was just hearing "Daily Mail White Noise". This was not white noise week, it was the start of an unravelling. When a Tory PM resorts to "rivers of blood" style rhetoric that the BNP describe as a "legitimising" of their message all is not good in the world of Westminster.