Socialist Worker

Courting Lib Dems won’t stop cuts

Issue No. 2251

According to Labour leader Ed Miliband, “This Conservative-led government has been sent a very clear message by the British people about the policies they’re pursuing for which they don’t have a mandate.”

Indeed.

The Labour Party had a resurgence in the English council elections on 5 May.

It retook the cities it lost after the Iraq war, during the most unpopular days of the last Labour government.

Labour won 26 councils and an impressive 800 extra councillors in England.

The election was partly people looking for what they perceived to be bulwarks against the government’s cuts.

So in Wales that meant Labour gained seats. But in Scotland people looked to the Scottish National Party (SNP).

This was in part due to the weakness of Labour’s campaign there.

But overall it was about what people considered a viable defence against government attacks.

For the SNP to win five of the eight Glasgow constituency seats is astounding.

A choice now opens up for Labour.

It can court the Lib Dems, hoping they will split from the coalition.

But doing that means coming up with policies the Lib Dems like—which will mean moving to the right. This offers little prospect of either building support or defeating the government.

Or it can encourage resistance to the government to break both the Lib Dems and the Tories.

The clearest example of this is in the councils it has just won. Labour’s gains came on the back of its opposition to the cuts.

Labour’s new councillors and its control over new councils provide an opportunity.

In many areas Labour councillors have previously voted against or abstained on the cuts plans from their Tory/Lib Dem opponents.

Now Labour is in charge in these places, will it simply oversee the cuts budgets already passed or stop them?

Protests that include Labour Party members and supporters can focus the minds of the party’s leaders and councillors.

More importantly, they point to a strategy that can push the war against the coalition forward.


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What We Think
Tue 10 May 2011, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2251
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