Socialist Worker

Jo Swinson’s Liberal landslide

Issue No. 2664

Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson (Pic: Wikicommons)

Jo Swinson was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats on Monday. She took more than 47,000 votes while her rival Ed Davey secured 28,000.

The Lib Dems have never been radicals, and it’s certain they will be a bosses’ B-team under Swinson.

As an employment minister in the 2010-15 coalition with the Tories, Swinson backed all the government’s austerity attacks and specifically attacked workers’ rights.

She introduced charges of up to £1,200 to take out an employment tribunal case, emboldening bosses to harass and sack their workers.

The next year Swinson said zero hour contracts were a “useful tool for flexibility in employment”.

She also told the Low Pay Commission to take Britian’s “stagnant” economy into account when setting the rate for the minimum wage as the government suggested it might be frozen or even cut.

Swinson pushed through changes to Tupe transfer regulations which apply when workers are privatised. These made it easier to cuts pay and conditions.

Challenging baseline tests

A group of parents was set to go to court on Wednesday over planned baseline tests for four and five year olds.

The tests will see children tested within weeks of starting reception in schools that have opted in to a pilot. Parents will not be informed.

London’s High Court will decide whether to allow a judicial review of the decision to pilot the tests before expanding them across England.

Northern Irish abortion legal

MPs last week voted to legalise abortion and same sex marriage in Northern Ireland. The bill will become law by 21 October unless the Northern Ireland Executive has been re-established by that date.

Women currently facing criminal trials will have their prosecutions dropped from 22 October.

The move is a big step forward for women’s and LGBT+ people’s rights.

New Universal Credit rip-off

Benefit claimants who move unnecessarily onto Universal Credit (UC) are losing thousands of pounds a year.

An MPs’ committee said the Department for Work and Pensions is failing to inform the claimants that they don’t have to switch to UC.

Meanwhile work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd said on Monday that up to ten thousand claimants will be moved onto UC over the summer.

This is part of “managed migration”.

Protesting for Shukri

Hundreds of people joined a protest calling for justice for Shukri Abdi in London last week. Shukri, a Somali refugee, died in the River Irwell in Bury last month.

Her family said she had been repeatedly bullied at school and that police are failing to properly investigate.

One protester, Caraweelo Ali, said, “Her death and the events surrounding it show that a black Muslim girl doesn’t matter.”


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