Socialist Worker

Lib Dems in crisis - and what's Ed up to?

Issue No. 2232

The vote for increased tuition fees has not solved the coalition’s problems—it has deepened them.

The Tories now know that they are not dealing with a sea of apathy and fear, but hundreds of thousands who are ready to fight tenaciously.

As David Cameron has admitted, 'I don't think we can go on saying a small minority were there.'

As for the Lib Dems, there is now speculation about whether Nick Clegg can continue as leader.

Six months ago he was swanning round the Downing Street rose garden with David Cameron. Now he’s the most unpopular politician in Britain.

According to the Daily Mirror, a Downing Street source said, “David Cameron owes Nick Clegg a huge debt for coming into the coalition and taking a massive personal hit over tuition fees.

“If it looks like he will lose his Sheffield Hallam seat, there will be an emergency exit strategy which could see him land one of the big jobs in Brussels.”

The fees were passed by just 21 votes—and 27 Lib Dems voted for them.

Those voting for include not just Clegg himself (who went to Robinson College, Cambridge, for free) but also Danny Alexander (who went to St Anne’s College, Oxford for free), Vince Cable (who went to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge for free), David Laws (who went to King’s College, Cambridge for free)—and so on and on.

Hounded

The latest opinion polls are a disaster for the Lib Dems—they put them on 9 percent, a quarter of their peak during the election.

And David Cameron can’t go anywhere without being hounded. On a visit to Leeds the day after the fees vote, protesters blocked the entrance, shouting “Scum! Scum! Scum!”

But the response of the Labour Party leadership has been weak. Even if not from a position of principle, you would still expect Ed Miliband to capitalise on his rivals’ crisis by marking himself out as different to them over fees and cuts.

But he can’t even manage to do that. His response to Thursday’s parliamentary vote on university tuition fees was extraordinary.

He refused to say that Labour wouldn’t raise fees, as the party had to “under‑promise and over-deliver”. So to avoid “breaking promises”, Labour won’t make any!

And what’s Miliband’s message to the disgraceful Lib Dems who have sold their souls to the Tories and helped wreck the futures of millions of working class young people in Britain?

He says: We can work with you—even if you remain in the government.

Miliband is Labour leader because tens of thousands of trade unionists voted for him. They may now be wondering why.


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