Socialist Worker

A change of leader won’t help Lib Dems

Issue No. 2073

The Liberal Democrats removed one leader because he had a drink problem. They have now thrown another out, apparently for being too old.

The Lib Dems benefited from being the only establishment party to oppose war in Iraq. But their stance was opportunist – supporting “winnable” wars and occasionally opposing those that are “unwinnable”. Their vacillations have done nothing to stop those wars.

The real problem for Lib Dems is that they want to build an openly “liberal” neoliberal party. But so do the Tories and the Labour Party.

The need to take on Labour and the Tories forces them look for any way to win votes. That makes opportunistic confusion central to the

Lib Dems, regardless of who leads them.

All the party’s potential leaders are committed to the free market. Vincent Cable, the temporary leader, is a former chief economist at Shell Oil. He argued, “Markets must be allowed to work, trade should be free, and private enterprise should not be shackled by excessive regulation.”

We need an alternative that can punish Labour and provide a radical alternative to the neoliberal consensus. Respect is that alternative.


Childhood stress

Tests harm children

A report published last week by Cambridge University found widespread stress among 7 to 11 year old children in England. The Community Soundings report found that children “are under intense and perhaps excessive pressure from the policy driven demands of their schools and the commercially driven values of the wider society”.

The findings reiterate concerns that the culture of testing in schools is damaging children.

Earlier this year, a Unicef report on children’s wellbeing across the developed world placed Britain in last place out of 21 countries.

The government, however, remains oblivious. A spokeswoman from the Department for Children, Schools and Families said, “The government does not share the view that children are over-tested.”

But it becomes clearer every day that we need an end to the culture of testing in schools, to resist the narrowing of the curriculum that testing involves, and to campaign for a broader education for all.


US elections

Clinton’s war shame

George Bush has led the way when it comes to imperialism and warmongering. But judging from Hillary Clinton’s recent statements, it seems the Democrats are only too keen to catch up.

Clinton, the front runner to be the Democratic candidate in next year’s US presidential elections, has signalled that she would back military strikes against Iran in order to force the country to give up its nuclear programme.

Writing in the journal Foreign Policy, she said that “all options must remain on the table” – exactly the words used by Bush regarding the possibility of a military attack on Iran.

Last month Clinton voted for a resolution allowing Bush to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organisation” – effectively giving Bush a blank cheque for war.

All this comes as the US population swings decisively against war. Hillary Clinton has shown that her allegiance is to the country’s warmongering elite – and not to the millions that want the Democrats to stand up against war.


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What We Think
Tue 16 Oct 2007, 18:12 BST
Issue No. 2073
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