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From: The Socialist issue 1051, 31 July 2019: Force a general election

Search site for keywords: Liberal Democrats - Austerity - Liberals - EU - European Union

Lib Dems: little bosses' party elects eager pro-austerity leader

New Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, photo by David Spender/CC

New Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, photo by David Spender/CC   (Click to enlarge)

James Ivens, East London Socialist Party

The Liberal Democrats, Britain's most shopworn and undeservingly smug little bosses' party, have elected a new leader. Jo Swinson is a management graduate, sworn enemy of Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity promise, and former minister in Tory David Cameron's coalition government.

As an MP, Swinson has eagerly put her hand up for austerity across the public sector. This includes benefit cuts, the pay cap, council cuts, the bedroom tax, raising VAT, hiking train fares, cutting corporate tax, protecting bankers' bonuses, tripling tuition fees, and abolishing Education Maintenance Allowance.

She has also supported privatisation of Royal Mail, NHS services, schools and forests, and backed fracking and overseas military interventions. As an employment minister, she supported zero-hour contracts and cautioned against meaningful increases to the minimum wage.

At times in the past, the Lib Dems feinted to the left on some issues. They hoped to capture the votes of young people and workers disenchanted with Blairite Labour's pro-capitalist politics.

Today, the Liberals pin their electoral hopes singly on defending their beloved, neoliberal European Union. They hope that understandable public anxieties about the chaos of the Tories' exit 'plans' will be enough to make up for the vicious anti-worker politics they share with the bosses' EU.

What it all shows is that Tories, Liberals and the EU are just three cheeks of the same rear end: politics for the super-rich, not the working class. The answer to Swinson, Johnson and the rest is to create a mass party for workers. Booting the Blairites out of Labour and fighting for it to adopt socialist policies would be a great start.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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