1.) It's all the fault of that evil meanie, Marge Thatcher!
"There is growing bitterness and anger in England," said Tariq Ali, once a firebrand on the barricades, in a posting on the Web site of The Guardian, a British newspaper. "The French epidemic could spread, but nothing will happen from above. Young and old fought Thatcher and lost. Her New Labour successors made sure that the defeats she inflicted were institutionalized."
There may be a sense, too, that, as old Labourites like to insist, the Conservatives are up to old tricks to benefit the rich and trample the poor, to divide and rule.
2.) It's because the French radical fringe is much more mainstream:
In Britain, the fringe is still on the fringe. In France, it is unfortunately more mainstream—hence the need for massive spending cuts. Compare, for instance, the circulation of the Socialist Worker in the U.K. (8,000) to the communist daily in France, L’Humanite (figures range from 50-75,000) or the absence, thank god, of an English equivalent of popular anti-capitalist politician Olivier Besancenot.
Nor does the United Kingdom have a powerful union controlled by the extreme left. The 1984-85 miners’ strike, led by the communist head of the National Union of Miners (NUM), Arthur Scargill, effectively broke the back of radical labor in Britain. (Recent revelations from Moscow and Stasi archives prove what many long suspected: NUM and Scargill solicited money from not just the Libyan dictatorship, but from East Germany and the Soviet Union.) And in France, Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), the second largest labor union, representing some 700,000 workers, has long been affiliated with the communist party and various other utopian left factions.