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: opens in new window)

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.