In an interview with the Observer, the Liberal Democrat leader says he fears “serious social strife” would break out on the streets if a government with limited support at the election on 6 May then raised taxes, laid off public-sector workers and froze wages.
“Imagine the Conservatives go home and get an absolute majority, on 25% of the eligible votes,” Clegg said. “They then turn around in the next week or two and say we’re going to chuck up VAT to 20%, we’re going to start cutting teachers, cutting police and the wage bill in the public sector. I think if you’re not careful in that situation… you’d get Greek-style unrest. And so my warning to people who think the old politics still works, is be careful for what you wish for.”
In his own constituency city of Sheffield, where there are no Conservative MPs or councillors, and a high proportion of public-sector workers, he fears a ferocious backlash against potential Tory cuts.
“Suddenly these people will be told by a government that has no legitimacy [in the area] in their eyes that this government is going to slash and burn, having promised them something else.”
Clegg’s fears may have been prompted by the 20th anniversary celebrations of the 1990 Poll Tax riots across the UK (see photo), which spelled the end for his heroine Margaret Thatcher.
Recalled anarchist group Class War earlier this year: “A vast number of confrontations between the people, and the police and government took place all around the UK, building momentum towards the large demonstration planned.
“Class War came to prominence because of the riot in Trafalgar Square. The 1990 uprisings against the Poll Tax seared like wildfire outside every council chamber and Shire Hall culminating in that glorious carnival of insurrection at Trafalgar Square when 10000 riotous working class heroes were cheered on by another 300000 as they torched buildings, fought cops with scaffolding poles and brought the reality of class war to the cosseted rich of the City and West End.
“This was no drunken mob, this was MASS CLASS WAR. As the filth forced Trafalgar Square clear, the mobs went in different directions. East to the plush arcades of Covent Garden, North to the expensive shopping areas of Regent Street, West to Leicester Square. All with the same motive, to show the rich scum exactly what we think of them and what they can expect more of in the future.”