THE DEPUTY prime minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was extolling the virtues of social mobility last week. He chose to do so while making pizzas at a children’s centre in Shepherd’s Bush in West London.
The problem, for Clegg, was that the local Tory-run council is evicting the project from their premises and it is set to close under the cuts.
Pushed by local parents, he refused say whether he backed the centre staying open—just after he had used it for a photo opportunity.
This was more than a gaffe. It sums up the position of the Lib Dems in the cuts coalition.
Clegg lives in a £1.3 million mansion in south London—and an expenses-funded second home in Sheffield.
He is a privately-schooled, Cambridge-educated son of a banker.
He knows nothing of why people need children’s centres.
While the Lib Dems provide the Tories with a bit of liberal window dressing, in reality they are as enthusiastic as the Tories when it comes to slashing public services.
That’s why this summer’s silly season story about whether former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy was about to join the Labour Party is revealing.
It turns out that Kennedy didn’t want to join—and, in a minor humiliation, neither did Lembit Opik. But the question is not why Kennedy would want to join Labour, but why Labour would want him.
It is worth recalling that the origins of the Lib Dems lie in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) split from Labour.
The SDP clique believed that Labour had become too left wing and were railing against a supposed “drift towards extremism” and the “growth of Leninism” in the party.
Their aim was to destroy Labour and replace it with a party with no links to the trade unions at all.
There are some in the Labour Party who have long believed they were right. They dreamed, and still dream, of merging Labour with the Lib Dems.
The Lib Dems have no ties to, or interest in, the working class.
Theirs is an opportunist party that will veer wildly left and right depending on what it thinks will bring the greatest electoral advantage.
The problem is that there are those in the Labour Party who aren’t that much different.
Those in the middle ground of Labour see the route to breaking the coalition as splitting “progressive” Lib Dems off from the government.
This is counterposed to actually fighting the attacks on ordinary people.
Yet from the cabinet to the council chamber the Lib Dems are committed to right wing neoliberal policies.
The obvious alternative is not to court them but to fight vigorously against every attack from this bosses’ government.
The way to beat the coalition is not to pluck a few shaky Liberals from it, but to be at the heart of ordinary people’s resistance to it.