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Austerity bites UK government at polls

Friday, May 04, 2012 - 02:01

May 4 - British voters have punished the UK's coalition government's at the polls in local elections for their failure to revive the country's economy despite spending cuts. Andrew Potter reports.

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British voters become the latest in Europe to punish their government for introducing painful austerity measures while failing to revive a struggling economy. The Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron has been hit hard at local elections. Projections suggest it only took a much-reduced share of the vote, at around 30 percent of council seats, its coalition partner the Liberal Democrats also falling to about 14 percent. That leaves the opposition Labour Party on course for a resounding victory, with around 40 percent of seats, while UKIP on the far right looked set to get a record 14 percent. Cameron apologised to his party, but said he remained committed to his plan to reduce Britain's massive public debt. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON SAYING: "These are difficult times and there aren't easy answers. What we have to do is take the difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and broken economy that we inherited. And we will go on making those decisions and we've got to do the right thing for our country." Cameron's government has stumbled from one blunder to another this year. A deeply unpopular budget came two years into a tough austerity drive and cuts in taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the elderly. To cap it off, Britain has just slipped back into recession. Ed Miliband is the Labour party leader. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY, ED MILIBAND, SAYING: "You know, people are hurting, people are suffering, people are suffering from the recession, people are suffering from a government that has raised taxes for them and cut taxes for millionaires. I think that's what we saw last night and I hope David Cameron takes some notice." Labour's gains might not extend to London, which is Britain's economic powerhouse. The flamboyant Conservative Boris Johnson is fighting for a second term as mayor. Spain, Italy and Greece have seen their governments fall over austerity plans. Cameron's coalition staked its name on economic competence. This election result suggests the public is losing faith. Andrew Potter, Reuters

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Austerity bites UK government at polls

Friday, May 04, 2012 - 02:01