Socialist Worker

Cuts, privatisation and anti-union laws—the Liberal Democrat way

by Alan Thomson
Issue No. 1921

IN POWER the Lib Dems live up to their talk of “tough liberalism” and “the supremacy of the free market”.

In Swansea they are the biggest party in the coalition controlling the council.

They have been in power for five months, after Labour failed—for the first time in 25 years—to win more than half of the council seats.

The Lib Dems happily jumped into bed with Tory and independent councillors to create what has been branded a “devil’s cabal”.

They quickly showed their true colours—attempting to ram through the privatisation of 102 council IT workers’ jobs.

This sparked an all-out strike, now into its seventh week. The IT strike looks likely to escalate into council-wide industrial action against privatisation and redundancies.

The plan to privatise the IT workers is part of a wider plan, initiated by New Labour and taken up by the Lib Dems, to create a council One Stop Shop.

The cost has spiralled up to £150 million.

The money could be better spent repairing and reopening a popular leisure centre that was shut down under Labour—one of the issues that hit the Labour vote at the council elections.

The Lib Dems have aped New Labour in other ways. They tried to appoint “political advisers” but were forced to backtrack when the cost of these “spin doctors” was revealed.

They also promised to remove the “cabinet” system of local government, heralding a “new era of openness”, but they changed their minds.

Instead they suggested that a “lucky” resident would get 180 seconds to address the council over a particular issue. Even this pathetic idea hasn’t been put into practice.

Despite their supposed commitment to openness, the Lib Dems tried to suppress a report saying that local schools had a £40 million repair backlog.

Not bad for five months in power!

OVER 100 social workers in Liverpool are continuing their all-out indefinite strike against the Lib Dem run council.

The strikers are holding daily meetings to discuss their strategy and are appealing to other groups of council workers for support.

The Lib Dems have tried to use the anti trade union laws to clamp down on the action.

In response, the social workers have coined a phrase that encapsulates their mood: “The anti-union laws—brought in by the Tories, retained by Labour, used with relish by the Lib Dems.”

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