"The middle classes are unaware of the scale of government spending cuts that will hit them this year, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said.
Mr Clarke said the coalition should be prepared for political difficulty when Middle England feels the full impact.
He told the Daily Telegraph he did not envisage a "quick rebound" for an economy in a "calamitous" state.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the coalition had not thought out the implications of its strategy.
He told BBC Radio Wales: "What you see is a government which has a plan to get rid of jobs in the public sector but not enough of a plan to replace them in the private sector."
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If someone says it's not as bad as all that, I say [they] just don't realise the calamitous position we're in”
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Mr Clarke told the Telegraph: "One reason we're going to get some political difficulty is that [while] the public knows we've got to do something about it, I don't think Middle England has quite taken on board the scale of the problem.
"That will emerge as the cuts start coming home this year. We've got to get on with it [but] it's going to be very difficult.
"If someone says it's not as bad as all that, I say [they] just don't realise the calamitous position we're in."
BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says that while Mr Clarke supports the chancellor's deficit reduction plan, his tone is downbeat in contrast to the Treasury's recent efforts to point to some more encouraging economic figures.
Shadow Treasury Chief Secretary Angela Eagle said Mr Clarke should be worried about "economic difficulty", not just political difficulty.
"The Tory-led government may have boasted before Christmas that Britain was recovering and out of the danger zone, but their decisions have meant the economy has now stalled and both unemployment and inflation are rising." she said.
"And this is before the full impact of the VAT hike and deep spending cuts have been felt."
She added: "Ken Clarke should come clean that his government made a political choice to reduce the deficit in this way. No other major economy is cutting this far and this fast."
In the interview, the justice secretary also questions Downing Street's hopes of limiting an extension of the vote in elections to prisoners serving up to one year, saying four years would be a more realistic figure.
This was an article posted on the bbc this morning. I think Ken clarke raises some good points but waht he fails to recognise is that the cuts wont just be affecting his own middle class they are already have a huge impact on the working class which no mainstream political party seem prepared to wantto represent.
Even labour always a party of the less well off in tradition are banging on and on about teh squeezed middle. That is all they care about. that group in society. SO dont be surprised labour and tories when you gain no votes from the working class that you have abandoned.
I too agree that people dont fully realise the impact of these cuts yet and how they will affect them. Whilst they are biting hard at the lower end of the scale the so called middle class is yet to feel it properly. Once their pay freezes and rising costs for fuel starts to hit home they will start to feel it too.
So it will be interesting which way this group of people go whether they turn against the political system altogether when they realise there is no real choice labour and tories would be cutting services and jobs right now.