Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/628/9780

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2010

Will the Lib Dems survive coalition?

THE LIB Dem decision to enter into the government coalition alongside the Tories casts questions about the future for that party and its support base. Thousands of Lib Dem voters see the decision as a betrayal and are vowing never to vote Lib Dem again.

Jim Thomson

While a Lib/Con coalition was a surprise to many, there are contextual and historical reasons why David Cameron and Nick Clegg found it so easy to unite. The Lib Dems are a divided party, not just left/right but their basis of support is unevenly spread across the country, with their strongest area being in the south west.

The party has gone through a similar, but not as extreme, process as that experienced in the Labour Party when lefts saw themselves witch-hunted while Blairism and New Labour took hold.

The Lib Dem left, who had considerable influence in the party in the early and mid 2000s, have been based around Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes. This faction, mostly based in the Beveridge Group, have shown their 'leftist' credentials over issues like Trident, tuition fees, privatisation of services and progressive taxation.

Crunch time

However, 2007, the year Clegg was elected leader, was crunch time for the party and saw the beginning of a purge of the left by those based around the capitalist polemic The Orange Book - Reclaiming Liberalism, notably Vince Cable, David Laws and Nick Clegg.

While the lefts in the Lib Dems do not pose an alternative to capitalism, in some areas, especially where the Labour Party has a weak base of support, they carry some weight among a layer of workers, community activists and youth, with many holding illusions in their policies.

The right however, are an out and out pro-capitalist faction, dedicated to the ideas of the market over the public sector. These characters are now hand in hand with the Tory axe-wielders. In a document called Setting Business Free the right stated that the party policy should always "start with a bias in favour of market solutions".

Furthermore, the Orange Book, produced in 2004 and featuring contributions by leading Lib Dems Clegg, Laws, Cable and Hulne, put forward vicious neoliberal policies of privatisation, cuts and PFI. In a sense, the sovereign debt crisis was a perfect excuse for these cronies of capitalism to bring in their savage anti-worker and anti-equality ideas.

Despite the right leaders' triumph over the left, a significant section of the population still saw the Lib Dems as a radical alternative to the two main parties.

Many workers saw them as a 'nicer' capitalist party; while understanding that they were very similar to the Tories and New Labour, they did however have some policies which were seen as desirable reforms. In a pre-election poll, people in a ratio of 4:1 said they believed the Lib Dems to be left of Labour. In an area like the south west, this figure is bound to be larger.

In a survey commissioned in Somerset which questioned why people voted Lib Dem in May 2010, their policies against tuition fees, Trident, on the war in Afghanistan and on more progressive taxation, came high. However, the reason that came top, was to keep the Tories out.

The anger that now exists within these two layers - those who agreed with the more progressive policies and those who fear and hate the Tories - is massive. To these people, many of whom will be trade unionists, youth and community campaigners, they have been betrayed. There will be a surge of hatred against the Lib Dems, which will only intensify as the coalition carries out savage cuts.

Initial opposition to the coalition from Charles Kennedy and some other Lib Dem MPs has died down and so far Clegg has fudged support for it inside his party through a process of patronage and quashing debate. However a future party split is possible.

It would be short-sighted to under-estimate the anger that exists in the rank and file, who are generally more left than the leadership. But without a figurehead, a Kennedy or Ashdown character, it looks unlikely in the short term that the activist layer could leave and set up a new formation.

However the Lib Dems are likely to haemorrhage members over the next period. Where will the ex-members orientate to? A sizeable number could, like many others, develop illusions in New Labour leaders who will sound more progressive while in parliamentary opposition, but who in reality mark no major change in programme from that of Blair or Brown.

However, there will also be members who consider themselves as left wing or even socialist and who will be unwilling to enter New Labour, a party responsible for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, privatisation of services, ID cards and Trident.

Also, where will ex-Lib Dem voters now look? Potentially there is a chance to get some of them involved in anti-cuts community campaigns and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Socialists within these campaigns need to patiently point out that all three main parties, whichever is in power and whatever their rhetoric, represent big business and capitalism.

Only socialist election candidates such as those who stood within TUSC, and the future candidates of a new mass workers' party, can truly stand for a fundamental break with the consensus of cuts, redundancies, privatisation and unemployment.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 9 June 2010:

Reject these brutal cuts


National Shop Stewards Network

Come to the NSSN conference unite the fightback!


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Why public sector cuts are not inevitable


Socialist Party news and analysis

Marches show opposition to Israeli state terror

Determined BA cabin crew ready to reballot

EDL thugs sent packing from Cardiff

EDL protest stopped in Swansea

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

CWU ballots BT workers for strike over pay

Unite conference - union at the crossroads

Wales TUC - rank and file delegates support socialist fightback


Socialist Party youth and students

Future of cuts a nightmare for youth

College campaign success

Socialist Students national meeting: Preparing for a student fightback

Youth Fight for Jobs open steering committee

Lobby Iain Duncan Smith at his surgery

Socialist Party youth meeting: ready to build a fightback


Socialist Party feature

Soccer World Cup 2010: South Africa, the ugly backdrop to the beautiful game


Environment and socialism

Oil spill shows hazards of the profit system

Bhopal - little justice 25 years on


News and comment

Will the Lib Dems survive coalition?

Bradford murders and prostitution


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 June 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Labour:

triangleSwansea: Corbyn rally attracts turnout but many can't get in

trianglePrepare now for the struggles after 12 December

trianglePlymouth Blairites side with anti-tenant landlords

triangleEnd council cuts now, to end Tory austerity!

triangleLabour's manifesto: fight to transform hope into a socialist society

Tories:

triangleStand firm for socialist policies to stop Tory attacks

triangleTrump and Tories are a threat to environment

triangleTories launch 'non manifesto'

triangleSixth-form college strikes: 'Sticking two fingers up at the Tories'

Privatisation:

triangleSave the NHS: kick out the Tories

triangleFrimley NHS Trust: Strikers remain determined to defeat privatisation

triangleBroadband: privatisation has failed to deliver, time for a socialist plan

Capitalism:

triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

triangleTV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/12/19

PCS

PCS general secretary election

11/12/19

Walthamstow

Avenue of trees saved!

11/12/19

Podcasts

Latest podcasts

11/12/19

Carmarthenshire

Undervalued gritters to walk out

10/12/19

Socialist Party

Come and discuss with us after the election

10/12/19

Morrisons

Pay Deal: ACAS sides with management

10/12/19

Usdaw

The Activist Issue 82 - for retail workers

9/12/19

Swansea

Swansea: Corbyn rally attracts turnout but many can't get in

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists

4/12/19

UCU

Strikes: more determined than ever

4/12/19

Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle

4/12/19

South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public

4/12/19

Surrey

Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

4/12/19

Hull

Social workers lobby Hull City Council

4/12/19

Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999