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Longread: Eight Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Waste Your Vote on the Lib Dems

There are two kinds of Liberal Democrats, those who are really Tories that are simply too embarrassed to tell their friends at dinner parties what they really believe in and the second kind who look at starving orphans and agree that “we really must do something” but quite like shopping at Waitrose and want to keep doing so thank you very much.

But here’s a Facebook share, they care… honest.

Whenever it appears that the Liberal Democrats might rise even slightly above mediocrity both the left and right alike are assailed by wild proclamations of “it’s three-party politics now!!!,” predictions that hilariously always manage to fall apart when it actually comes to the ballot box.

The reality is that the Lib Dems have never, in fact, ever come even remotely close to making a realistic claim that Britain is a three-party state, with Tony Blair and New Labour having sown up neoliberal centrism for well over a decade and the electorate tiring of the dead ideology soon afterwards.

So what use are the Liberal Democrats exactly? What exactly would be voters be voting for?

Let’s take a look…

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is a Vote to Keep the Status Quo

The sense that the Lib Dems would be happier with a Tory government that doesn’t threaten the economic and social status-quo cannot be escaped from, nor the sense that Lib Dems concern for the disadvantaged is not only as vapid as their ideology but is all centred around personal cost. While many on the left are sympathetic to the Lib Dems and feel their heart is in the right place, it must be remembered that the brand of centrist neoliberalism and identity politics trumpeted by the Liberal Democrats is as inherently opposed to socialism as conservatism is.

There is only one electable ideology which seeks to radically transform the very fabric of how society works to bring true equality and justice and it is neither conservatism, liberalism, fascism nor neoliberalism. It is socialism.

But the Lib Dems do not want radical transformation, nor to break the capitalist wheel that has oppressed ordinary people for centuries. They offer irrelevant and vapid populist policies such as the shopping bag tax to a receptive audience to show they’re “doing something,” while completely unwilling to tackle the root cause of issues such as inequality and climate change, that, of course, being the capitalist system.

While the Lib Dems proclaim their liberal credentials on equality, they do so through the prism of the existing capitalist social structure, meaning that moves toward equality are inherently doomed to fail while the institutions and attitudes that allow inequality to exist remain in place. This contradiction and lack of understanding shows either supreme ignorance or that Lib Dem ideology is mere grandstanding. It is easy to virtue signal when you don’t actually believe anything will change.

Neoliberalism, like all other capitalist ideologies opposed to socialism, can only function while the masses remain ignorant of its truth and remain divided. They provide enough bread to eat and convince the workers that they can’t have the factory. Once the masses wake-up to the truth of the con, as they are doing around the globe in Britain, France, Chile, Ecuador, across the Middle East and even in the United States, the establishment must take severe actions to quell the revolution, whether that revolution comes from violent protest or through democratic democracy.

While in Chile the state has attempted to crush the awakening with bullets and teargas, in Britain and the United States they have countered Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders with programmes of smears, disinformation, propaganda and fake news.

The ruling classes have attempted to divide the people through the spread and encouragement of identity politics, an ideology that has had great success and been mistakenly taken up by many on the left and of course is espoused by swathes of Lib Dems. The ideology, which glorifies the self as opposed to the unified masses, is the antithesis to socialism and serves to create divisions between the people. The only true division is between the 99% and the 1%. While the masses focus on internal squabbles on race, gender, sexuality, religion and so much more, the elites continue in power and continue the cycle of exploitation.

While the Conservatives can be easily seen as a malign influence, the Liberal Democrats want to continue the same age-old cycle of exploitation through the exact same system of capitalist oppression, they just do it with a nice smiley face.

The Lib Dems don’t want to break the wheel, they are merely another spoke on that wheel.

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is a Split Vote

Indeed, all the Liberal Democrats have ever seemed to succeed in doing is splitting the opposing vote to the Tories or wilfully jumping into bed with them at the earliest opportunity.

A prime example is the very first election that the Lib Dems fought in 1992 where they received just under 6 million votes under the charismatic Paddy Ashdown. At the same election, Labour received around 11.4m votes and the victorious Tories received 14m.

In 2015, the Lib Dems received 2.4m votes as a rightful backlash to the 2010 coalition, Labour under Ed Miliband received around 9.3m, the winning Tories received 11.3m. Yet again, had those votes been received by Labour they would have won the popular vote.

By 2017 they managed a further 2.4m votes while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour received 12.9m. Theresa May and the Tories received 13.6m. The Lib Dems once again cost Labour the popular vote and seats all across the country and allowed another two years of austerity and chaos under May and lately Boris Johnson.

Much has been made of The Brexit Party splitting the vote against Boris Johnson, yet few amongst the Guardian breed of journalists have been willing to call out the Liberal Democrats for splitting the vote against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, the only party who can unseat the Tories no matter what the delusional Jo Swinson thinks. Instead of criticism, the like of The Guardian have barely hidden their desires for a hung parliament and have little to say on the threat of the Lib Dems once again denying a Labour government and allowing the Tories back into power.

The Green Party have been adult enough to stand aside and endorse the Labour Party candidate in the marginal Calder Valley constituency. The seat was won by a slender majority of 609 with the Tory Craig Whittaker defeating Labour’s Josh Fenton-Glynn. The Green candidate at the time won 631 votes. Knowing that their presence would split the vote on the left and risk the Conservatives taking the seat, the Greens have taken the honourable decision to bow out.

“The Green Party in the Calder Valley today announces that it will be recommending a vote for the Labour Party Candidate, Josh Fenton Glynn, in the next general election. We call on all the people of Calder Valley to support our opposition to a hard Brexit and increasing austerity.”

The Green Party

The Liberal Democrats, of course, will not countenance any such maturity and seem inclined only toward self-promotion and the vague hope they may win enough seats to again be seen as anything but a minor party in parliament. While they talk of stopping Brexit and… and… whatever other policies they may actually have, they seem disinclined to take the logical step of cooperating with the only other potential party of government and would prefer to block and hinder Jeremy Corbyn and Labour at every opportunity.

Tory Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has categorically ruled out backing Jeremy Corbyn in a hung parliament, opening the way for yet another Conservative Party victory and five more years of Boris Johnson.

https://twitter.com/AbiWilks/status/1191699254504501248

Of course, Jo has good reason not to want to enter coalition with Jeremy Corbyn. He absoltely refuses to rain down nuclear anniliation of civilians.

The monster.

Like all adherents to neoliberalism, Swinson and the Lib Dems fear a socialist government far more than a conservative one, no matter how far-right that party has drifted. Like the neoliberal centrism of the Lib Dems, conservatism in no way threatens to strip away exploitative and toxic capitalism of the state and only reinforces division rather than creating a united popular people’s front.

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is a Vote for Those Who Aided and Abetted the Tories

In 2010, the Lib Dems went one step beyond splitting the vote and allowing the Tories into government by literally entering government with them.

There is a famous quote that is often attributed to the great Groucho Marx that perhaps encapsulates the ideology of Liberal Democrats better than anything else out there.

“These are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.”

Unconfirmed origin, popularly attributed to Groucho Marx

For all the grandstanding prior to the 2010 election, the Lib Dems and their then leader Nick Clegg wilfully cast aside any pretence of principles for a grab at the reigns of power, prestige and personal opportunity.

While the Lib Dems attempt to portray the coalition government as their holding back David Cameron’s wilder and harsher policies, the voting record doesn’t back their claim and no Lib Dem has ever gone on record to name exactly what it was they managed to stop Cameron doing, nor state what action benefited the public good while in office.

Well except the plastic bag tax.

14 million people in the UK now in poverty, 1.6 million food packages being given out by food banks, devastation wrought in the middle east… but there’s a 5p tax on plastic bags. Hurrah for that. Hercules himself would be proud of the effort.

So what did the Lib Dems back while in the coalition? Here’s a list…

  • The tripling of tuition fees, creating potential decades of debt for millions
  • Privatising Royal Mail
  • Cuts and creeping privatisation to the NHS
  • Cuts to council budgets
  • Cutting the education budget
  • Selling school playing fields
  • The Benefit cap
  • Benefit cuts for the terminal ill
  • Cuts to social funds for those in crisis
  • Means-tested child benefit
  • The bedroom tax
  • Tax cuts for millionaires
  • Anti-worker tribunal fees
  • Increasing VAT
  • Fracking
  • Building on green belt land

After voting with and supporting the Tories for so long, it seems that many Liberal Democrats went native and found they enjoyed their role in the exploitation and the chaos. Such is the level of right-wing thinking in the Lib Dems that there is increasingly little to separate the Party with the Tory left and centre, with only the Boris Johnson-led swing to far-right making this fact less noticeable.

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is Literally a Vote for Tories

The vapidity of Lib Dem policies and adherence to meaningless centrist rhetoric has recently allowed a motley crew of right-wing ex-Labour members and Tory wets to feel that the party is for them.

There’s Chuka Umunna, a man who changes party as often as he changes his Armani suits. A man so beholden to the cause of equality, social justice and changing the system that according to reports he is a member of men’s club where brandy goes for £4,000 a bottle. He was joined by his fellow Labour cast-offs Luciana Berger and Angela “love me some fracking” Smith, so enthralled by liberalism that they were famously part of Labour Friends of Israel.

Obviously, “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.” They may murder Palestinians in cold blood, but they did hold Eurovision this year. So they’re very liberal. Obviously.

Red Tories the Lib Dems could probably get away with, but it seems the party is now the natural home of actual full-fledged conservatism.

Ex-Tories Sarah Wollaston, Phillip Lee, Sam Gyimah, Heidi Allen and Antoinette Sandbach have all joined the party after either being sacked by Boris Johnson or resigning from the party.

Perhaps the most notorious of the Tory Five was Phillip Lee, an MP who has campaigned for the NHS to be “reconfigured” and suggested that free medicine should be restricted. He abstained on Same-sex marriage legislation and his appointment caused several LGBT Lib Dems to quit in protest.

And why is it that Tories should suddenly feel so welcome in the Liberal Democrats?

Because they may have changed party but they haven’t changed ideology. Within the Lib Dems they can continue the same dead neoliberal rhetoric they espoused under David Cameron and Theresa May all while taking a “principled” stand for Remain. Indeed, leader Jo Swinson has opened up the party to making their swing to the right all but official, allowing lifelong conservatives to feel quite at home wearing yellow instead of blue.

But what else would we expect from Jo Swinson?

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is a Vote to Feed Jo Swinson’s Ego

Jo Swinson is a Tory. There is really little more to it than that.

Swinson has regularly voted in line with Conservative party policy, voting for austerity, voting against raising benefits, voting against higher benefits for those unable to work through disability and voting against guaranteeing jobs for young people.

She voted to raise VAT, increase the income tax threshold and for increases to tuition fees. She voted to end financial support for young people in training and against slowing the rise in the cost of train fares.

Seemingly a fan of the bankers and corporatism, Swinson voted against taxing banker’s bonuses, against stricter regulations on the gambling industry, voted for reducing corporation tax and voted to privatise Royal Mail.

Between 2010 and 2015 Jo Swinson voted more in-line with the Tory Party whip than either Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt. Think about that.

https://twitter.com/GamerValleyboy/status/1192117457290452992

Despite her abysmal record in government alongside the rest of the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson and her party seem to have a highly inflated sense of self-importance and misplaced confidence for a party with 21 MPs, five of them former Tories.

Constantly defying common sense, Swinson seems intent on attempting to convince the British public she can be the next Prime Minister, despite this being as likely as Jacob Rees-Mogg having Christmas dinner at a greasy spoon. Like much of the Liberal Democrats outlook on life, it seems to be more a case of screwing up your eyes and wishing really, really hard for a rainbow unicorn.

Instead of understanding that only Jeremy Corbyn can be the next Prime Minister and agreeing to work toward that eventuality in a hung parliament, Swinson is determined to push herself to the front of the political agenda.

In perhaps the most staggering display of political arrogance since the last time Nigel Farage opened his mouth, the new Lib Dem battle bus has rebranded the party as “Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats” making the party sound like some poor 1960s tribute band you might have seen at Butlins.

The utter cringe.

What is it with fanatics and their buses?

While self-aggrandisement within her own party is a matter for the Lib Dems to deal with and the rest of us to mock, Swinson has also continuously denigrated the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon as she attempts to portray herself as the only woman in politics.

Swinson threw one of the smug and patronising tantrums for which she’s become known for after ITV made the sensible decision to exclude minor parties from the debates. Instead of promoting what difference in policy she offers to Corbyn or Johnson, she instead fell back to playing the gender card. Swinson of course completely ignored the fact that Nicola Sturgeon is a woman and that the SNP are the third-largest party in parliament with far more right to be there than the Lib Dems.

You would think that not appearing at the debates would be considered a blessing in disguise for a party with no policies where they promise to be roundly exposed by both Johnson and Corbyn alike.

Indeed, Swinson has been nothing short of a disaster ever since the party began their general election campaign, with many of her interviews being called “a car crash”.

The personality cult that is being built by the Liberal Democrats around Jo Swinson and the backing of the most extreme elements of the Remain FBPE crowd have created a toxicity that is new ground for the party. Coupled with a disturbingly hard-right voting record and an influx of Tories to the party, you have to wonder where Swinson is looking for her inspiration.

Oh, wait, we know the answer to that one.

To add insult to injury, Swinson wrote her call for a statue in The Daily Mail

Going back to the vapid identity politics argument, Swinson seemingly has little interest to the devastation brought by Thatcher to working-class communities across the country and instead thinks that opposition to a statue of the wicked witch has a “whiff of misogyny” and that opponents are “pretty sexist”.

“She had long-term vision about our country’s future.”

Jo Swinson on Margaret Thatcher

We can easily point to the likes of Jacob Ree-Mogg as holding the working class in contempt, but Swinson believing that the opposition of the working class to a statue of the woman who destroyed their livelihoods and communities is about misogyny shows the exact same level of contempt for the ordinary people of this country as the Tories.

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is a Vote for a Personality Cult

Personality cults breed falsehoods. In order to maintain the image of the leader, it is necessary for the cult to both protect his or her image and redefine that image into one of success and one saviourhood.

The cult of personality surrounding Donald Trump is a perfect example of how followers will wilfully create this saviour narrative, placing the leader on a pedestal of false virtue. In their eyes Trump is the saviour of America, here to rid the country of all that they have been brainwashed by a far-right media into believing is the problem with America. The leader must be exalted and truth and lies are merely alternative facts.

While nowhere near as frightening as the dark depths of Qanon, the Tea Party and the evangelicals who believe in Trump’s mission from God, political personality cults are certainly not limited to the far-right, with the cult of Obama being an excellent second example.

The Cult being built around Jo Swinson is, again, about saviourhood. She is the saviour of Remain, the candidate who will stop Brexit and return us to the “glory” days of liberal centrism when we could impoverish and bomb millions but still feel good we were getting rid of plastic. Her voting record, thoughts on Thatcher or nuclear anniliation are of no relevance. Only the cause matters. Only salvation.

She is the yin to Nigel Farage’s yang, a man upon who the opposing Leave personality cult focuses.

https://twitter.com/red_black_cat/status/1190289864325042178

Like immigration, guns and abortion in America, Brexit has been engineered to be as emotive an issues as possible by both Leave and Remain, portrayed as an existential threat to to the nation, to the future and to voters personally. So when the chosen one, the saviour, is slighted such as Jo Swinson being turned down for the ITV and BBC debates, it is not just a slight to the leader, but to the movement and to salvation in the form of Remain.

But all personality cults are built on falsehoods and false promises. False promises of border walls, false promises of change we can believe in, false promises of being the next Prime Minister. When these false statements and promises inherently fail to materialise, the cult must look for anyone to blame besides the leader.

Trump was screwed by the Democrats, Obama was screwed by the Republicans and when the Liberal Democrats fail to advance it will no doubt once more be Jeremy Corbyn and Labour who Lib Dem voters turn their guns toward.

This need for falsehood and need for salvation means that “the ends justify the means” and political tactics become ever-increasingly dirty. Who cares, for example, about a bit of fake news so long as the result is the salvation of America or Britain?

A Vote for the Lib Dems Is a Vote for Fake News

With relatively little time gone in the election campaign, the Lib Dems have already been seen to be producing misleading material and fake news.

Graphs produced on election leaflets have been exposed suggesting indicating that the party had a far larger chance of winning local seats that they do in reality.

The graphs were widely mocked on Twitter, with even Labour’s Clive Lewis getting in on the action.

Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact-checking charity, condemned the graphs as misleading.

The Lib Dems didn’t stop at dodgy graphs, however, also managing to add dodgy quotes to their repertoire.

The party went possibly one stage further as they completely invented a poll result from YouGov.

Despite being caught red-handed, the Lib Dems have attempted to portray dear leader Jo Swinson as a victim of “disinformation” by both Labour and the right.

It is, after all, hard to signal your virtue when you don’t actually have any.

The Best For Britain campaign has also been accused of distributing fake news on behalf of the Lib Dems. While officially claiming to be offering advice for tactical voting to ensure the election of Remain candidates, the group seem to be instead promoting voting for Lib Dems at the expense of Labour in marginal seats.

The Best for Britain CEO is Naomi Smith, who is both a former Liberal Democrat PPC and friends with former leader Nick Clegg.

Brexit Is Not Britain’s Existential Crisis, Toxic Capitalism Is

Feeling they can exploit passionate feelings around Brexit, the Lib Dems hope that they can ensure that voters forget their record in government between 2010 and 2015 when they were wilful co-partners in creating the economic and social disaster that Britain is faced with today. Instead of standing for change, they stand for the continuation of the status quo and the continuation of a society in which millions are crying out for radical change.

Britain is indeed faced with an existential crisis, but it’s not Brexit.

Climate change, austerity and war have or will devastate countries and communities on a massive scale. The refugee crisis is unprecedented and unmanageable, the millions queuing at food banks and suffering in poverty grows with each passing day, an invigorated fascism is on the rise around the globe and the equally far-right United States no longer makes a pretence of being an empire. This is the crisis facing the world and one from which Brexit is a mere distraction, a distraction serving to divide the masses and distract them from the true problem in society.

Jo Swinson and Nigel Farage keep the balance of distraction in place, the twin yin and yang of Brexit extremism ensuring that the masses consume their Brexit opiate to keep this distraction going.

Britain doesn’t need salvation from Leave or Remain, it needs salvation from toxic capitalists who have hedged their bets either way on both sides. While one set of capitalists will win from Brexit, another will lose, the end result doesn’t matter. It is a billion-pound gamble, a mere game with the British people as the chess-pieces. And so the wheel will turn.

The Liberal Democrats, Conservative Party and Brexit Party are seemingly immensely different on the surface, yet deeper they all stand for a continuation of the system that has led us to this point. All three believe they have a moral high-ground over the others, yet when the fluff is all stripped away, there is no real difference.

This dedication to the establishment has allowed the Lib Dems to continually support and aid the Conservatives for thirty years. It allowed them to enrich the bankers and allow fracking. It allowed them to not just enable but wilfully participate in the impoverishment of millions. It allowed them to assist in the creation of the refugee crisis and the deaths of tens of thousands.

All around the world people have woken up to the con. Social media has destroyed the illusion, it has pulled back the curtain and revealed the ugly truth behind the pretty facade. And the establishment is scared.

This is a General Election for which there is no tomorrow. Britain cannot handle another five years of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, nor can it take five years of neoliberalism. There has never been a more important election.

Society has reached a breaking point and in many countries that point has already been passed, bringing violence to the streets of Paris, Santiago, Beirut and Baghdad. Five more years will see yet more poverty, yet more food banks, the continuing destruction of the education system, the continuing collapse of law and order, the privatisation of the NHS, more war in the Middle East, the advance of the far-right and the continued destruction of the climate.

Only Jeremy Corbyn and Labour offer the possibility of a different path and the possibility of long-lasting and effective change in society.

Do not waste your vote on the Lib Dems.

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