Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 March 2006

Liberal Democrats turn right

WITH MENZIES 'Ming' Campbell newly elected as leader, Liberal Democrats will att-empt to put the crises of the last few months behind them. This follows the forcing out of previous leader Charles Kennedy because of his alcoholism, and various revelations about party leading lights.

Steve Score

In particular they are facing the threat of being squeezed out by new Tory leader David Cameron's attempt to revive his own party. Cameron has "spun" himself as a more "liberal" Tory leader. Although the Lib Dems won a by-election in the previously safe Labour seat of Dunfermline and Fife West with a 16% swing, they may suffer in some of their seats south of the border where the Tories have more of a base. It is not guaranteed that they will reap the benefits of disillusionment with New Labour.

On the one hand many of their recent successes have been the result of opportunistically outflanking Labour to the left with pretence at an anti-war stance, opposing attacks on civil liberties etc. On the other hand there has been a decided shift towards economic 'neo-liberalism', in other words right-wing Thatcherism.

The "left face" on things such as the war has been more style than content; they supported the war when it started. Campbell refuses to put forward a date by which the occupation of Iraq should end, in other words he doesn't really oppose it.

Their support for civil liberties does not extend to trades unions either. They have argued for the extension of anti-union laws, including the right of companies to take action against unions for loss of earnings during strikes.

Proof that he wants to shift the party right came almost immediately on Ming's election, when he gave support to a successful resolution at the Liberal spring conference to privatise the Post Office.

In the election for Party leader, the candidate of the traditional 'Liberal left', Simon Hughes came a miserable third. Right-wing economics spokesperson, Chris Huhne, who has only been an MP since the general election, came within 8,000 votes of Campbell.

Yet many of Campbell's backers (would they be called "Mingers"?) were from the new generation of Orange Book economic neo-liberals. The so-called Orange Book is a collection of essays advocating a sharp right-wing turn.

These include the likes of David Laws, who wants to cut the benefits of single parents, forcing many back to work against their will in order to save 2 billion for the treasury. He also advocates the disbanding of the NHS and its replacement with private provision and insurance.

There has been speculation about the possibility of a fall in New Labour's support at the next general election and an increased Tory vote resulting in a hung parliament, and consequently the Liberals forming a coalition government with one party or the other.

In reality, the policies of all three main parties are so similar that it would not make much difference to the character of the government. All three parties support privatisation, cuts in public services and attacks on living standards.

We need a real alternative to these pro-big business parties, one that stands for the interests of working class people.

Donate to the Socialist Party

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.
  • 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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 9 March 2006:

A party for the millions...not the millionaires!

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference, 19 March 2006

A headlong dash to sleaze

Fighting for a socialist future

Stoke: Socialist councillors do their job

Liberal Democrats turn right

International socialist news and analysis

CWI proposals win support

Iraq: end this military adventure

Berlin Left reject unprincipled coalition

Socialist Party workplace news

Fight parasitic job agencies

Strike for pension rights!

What will the Education Bill mean for schools?

University staff strike for pay

Power station pay scandal exposed


Home   |   The Socialist 9 March 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Liberal Democrats:

triangleWorkers' movement must launch a campaign for a general election

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

triangleFighting for socialism amid capitalist chaos

triangleCorbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

triangleTUSC: To stand or not to stand?


triangleEnfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

triangleLeft candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

triangleRight lose control in national executive council election

triangleLeft candidate needed for Unite general secretary election


triangleBirmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

triangleMajority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

triangleReaders' Opinion


triangleReaders' comments

trianglePalestinians need a new socialist intifada

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Engineers in fourth week of strike action



Conference 2021: Divide between union leaders and rank-and-file exposed



Sparks win victory!



Underpaid, overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'



Enfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist



Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election



National finance meeting



Socialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference



Birmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor



Johnson's G7 hypocrisy



Pandemic homeless



International solidarity protests



Queues at Socialist Party stall in Cov



Majority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour



Now is the time to fight for the NHS

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



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021