Socialist Worker

Is Kennedy a radical alternative to Blair?

The Lib Dems are riding high in the polls, but Preston Respect councillor Michael Lavalette is not convinced of their anti-war credentials.

Issue No. 1921

WE CAN agree with Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy on two assessments.

First, the war and the lies about the war remain key political issues in Britain.

Second, the Tories are in no position to capitalise on Labour’s misery.

But to go from this to supporting the Lib Dems would be a huge mistake. Let’s look at their record.

First their opposition to the war was always equivocal. Kennedy admitted as much when he told the two million strong anti-war demonstration on 15 February 2003, “We are not the all-out anti-war party.” The Lib Dems wanted the UN to lead the attack on Iraq.

When it was clear that war was coming without UN backing, they rushed to lend their support.

A week before the invasion of Iraq Kennedy told the Lib Dem spring conference, “When war comes, I want to make it absolutely clear that the Liberal Democrats will be backing our troops.”

Three days before the first tanks rolled into Iraq he urged the House of Commons to unite in “genuine support” for the war.

Today they support a UN force entering Iraq and creating a protectorate under UN control. With the Lib Dems in power little would have been different—and a UN protectorate is not what the people of Iraq want.

Kennedy certainly does not want to remove British troops from Iraq—as demanded by most Iraqis and by many of those, like Rose Gentle, who have lost loved ones in Iraq.

On related issues Kennedy’s party has been hopelessly vague.

For most anti-war activists the Palestinian issue is a central concern. But when their frontbench spokesperson Jenny Tonge said she could empathise with the position young suicide bombers felt they were in, she was sacked.

In Preston Respect led a motion to twin with the Palestinian town of Nablus. This flowed out of our anti-war work. At the vote only one out of 11 Lib Dem councillors supported the motion.

If the Lib Dems are the answer, it must be the wrong question.


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