The Tories are scrabbling to regain the initiative after losing a central plank of their economic strategy.
George Osborne claimed his austerity policies were the solution to Britain’s economic problems. But he was shamed when a credit rating agency took away Britain’s “triple A” status last week.
This happened as the coalition partners were engaged in a bruising by-election battle in Eastleigh following the resignation of Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne.
Huhne admitted to perverting the course of justice to avoid getting penalty points on his driving licence ten years ago.
This was scandal enough for the Liberal Democrats.
But now Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg himself is implicated in covering up allegations of sexual harassment against a senior figure in the party, former chief executive, Lord Rennard.
The police have now been called in to investigate.
The reek of crisis and panic means that the by-election has seen the two parties of the coalition locked in battle.
There has been a lot of sound and fury—and pages of newsprint devoted to the election.
Local residents got sick of being accosted by campaigners, pollsters or journalists as all the main parties flooded the town with MPs and activists.
The Liberal Democrats alone sent 700 members in on the final weekend of the campaign.
For all the attempts of the parties to claim fundamental differences with each other, on the most important issue of the day they all agree.
They all believe there is no alternative to George Osborne’s plan A—the imposition of austerity and brutal cuts to services and welfare.
Yet this is the issue that is bringing people out onto the streets every week across Britain in protest.
It is also the reason a quarter of a million PCS union members are voting in a national ballot for more strikes, including one on budget day.
In Eastleigh, there is an alternative to vote for. Socialist Worker supports Daz Procter the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate.
While the main parties are fighting among themselves workers and activists should be taking advantage of the opportunity.
We need to take the fight against the cuts wherever we can mobilise.
We need to build up rank and file networks of trade unionists who want to fightback and reject the union leaders’ compromises.
The regional Unite the Resistance conferences coming up are a place to get together and get organised with everyone who wants to take up the fight.
Together we can stop the Tories’ austerity attacks.