Socialist Worker

A ‘progressive coalition’ wouldn’t stop the cuts

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2201

After Gordon Brown announced his intention to resign on Monday, much of the media and some MPs applauded his political “cleverness” in keeping alive the prospect of a Liberal-Labour coalition.

Following 13 years of bloody war, privatisation and assaults on workers’ living standards, it’s perhaps fitting that many regard Brown’s departure as his finest move.

A surreal form of speed dating with spin took place after the election, with Labour and the Conservatives auctioning themselves to the Lib Dems.

Formal negotiations between Labour and Lib Dem leaders were taking place as Socialist Worker went to press, amid talk of a “progressive coalition” government.

There is more at stake than whether politicians can manufacture enough support to secure a majority in parliament.

The Labour Party emerged at the beginning of the 20th century because the Liberals had been exposed as an anti-working class force.

A swathe of “moderates” and some union leaders at the time regretted the split between Labour and Liberal. This tradition, which does not see the need for class-based politics, still survives.

Tony Blair was one of its staunchest supporters.

This trend sees a “progressive coalition”, and some varieties of proportional representation, as opening the door to a more long-term realignment.

They should be opposed. We do not want a politics where organised workers are sidelined by the bleating of Lib Dem MPs.

We do not want the next Labour leader to be hand-picked by Nick Clegg and his merry band of public schoolboys.

One reason why the Lib Dems did less well than they expected in the election was that their record in local government is one of cuts and privatisation on a Tory scale.

Labour avoided a much heavier defeat last week because of the basic class identification that still runs through large parts of the working class.

Socialist Worker does not believe that Labour offers a future for working people.

But we want it replaced by a party genuinely rooted in working class interests – not by a liberal party.

It was right to vote for Labour in spite of the party’s record in government, not because of it, where there was no left alternative.

But that does not mean encouraging the further rightward drift of the party.

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Article information

Tue 11 May 2010, 17:13 BST
Issue No. 2201
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