The new Lib Dem leader is more Tory than some Tories
Jo Swinson is now leader of the Liberal Democrats. But her voting record and her political history suggest that she may actually be more Tory than some members of the Conservative Party.
Once a Lib Dem, always a Lib Dem
On 22 July, Swinson won the leadership contest, with a large majority over her opponent Ed Davey:
Liberal Democrat leadership election result:
E. Davey: 28,021
J. Swinson: 47,900
Jo Swinson elected.
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) July 22, 2019
After securing victory, Swinson reportedly labelled Boris Johnson “unfit to be prime minister”. She continued:
I stand before you today not just as leader of the Lib Dems, but as a candidate to be prime minister. There is no limit for my ambition for our party, our movement and our country.
I am ready to take my party into a general election and win it.
But any hope from people on the left that she may take a strong stand against the Conservatives would be very misplaced. For a start, she’s already ruled out any possibility of a coalition government with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. And concerns about Swinson’s track record don’t stop there.
An architect of austerity
As Labour’s Ian Lavery pointed out, it’s important not to forget Swinson’s leading role as one of the architects of Coalition-led austerity:
“Jo Swinson sat at the top table of the coalition government and voted for vicious attacks on the most vulnerable and tax cuts for the super-rich and big businesses. Austerity couldn’t have happened without Liberal Democrats." – @IanLaveryMPhttps://t.co/5JqNoSVbeD
— Labour Press Team (@labourpress) July 22, 2019
Indeed, Swinson’s voting record shows that she consistently voted to reduce welfare and benefits, including cutting payments for people with illnesses or disabilities. She also voted to cut the Educational Maintenance Allowance for 16-to-19-year-olds. And she helped to raise university tuition fees, despite promising not to as one of the key policies that helped elect many Lib Dem MPs in 2010. Her track record on environmental issues, meanwhile, shows she supported the badger cull, fracking and HS2.
Many others, including the SNP, were also quick to point this record out:
👇 Here’s the record of the new Lib Dem leader, @joswinson. pic.twitter.com/RMOpxTTRzx
— The SNP (@theSNP) July 22, 2019
Jo Swinson CV
• Warned against rises in Minimum Wage
• Defended Tory Tribunal Fees
• Scrapped EMA
• Cut Disability Payments
• Backed Bedroom Tax
• Tripled Tuition Fees
• Voted to bomb several Muslim Countries
• Backed Austerity
Just your regular Liberal Democrat, really
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) July 22, 2019
Jo Swinson was Minister of State for Employment Relations when the Coalition Government introduced Employment Tribunal fees.
This is what it did to people fighting for justice at work. Well done @unisontweets for overturning this injustice in the courts pic.twitter.com/qKkwBtAv3W
— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) July 22, 2019
The Labour Party gave a quick reminder of all the things Swinson would rather we didn’t know:
Here’s what new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson doesn’t want you to know… pic.twitter.com/DrP2crVu0d
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) July 22, 2019
As the editor of Tribune noted, she’s also a “darling of the liberal press”:
Jo Swinson, darling of the liberal press, used her role as Minister to oppose increases in the minimum wage, sing the praises of zero-hour contracts, and hike up the fees for employment tribunals – placing justice out of reach for thousands of workers. 'Progressive'. https://t.co/KXYLUIVsqh
— Ronan Burtenshaw (@ronanburtenshaw) July 22, 2019
And if her true blue credentials needed any further testimony, she also wanted to honour Margaret Thatcher:
Jo Swinson has just been elected Leader of the Lib Dems: pic.twitter.com/2KgAIv6MTG
— Liam Young (@liamyoung) July 22, 2019
In fact, as activist Rachael Swindon noted, Swinson is actually more Tory than some Tories:
During the coalition years of 2010-2015 it seems Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson voted with the Tory whip on more occasions than Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt.
She is more Tory than the Tories.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) July 22, 2019
And #YellowTory started trending on Twitter in Swinson’s honour:
What does a Yellow Tory #austerity enabler who uses identity politics to gloss over their intrinsically Thatcherite/neoliberal economic policies look like?
Could you show one grinning like a maniac because they can’t believe the free ride the media gives them?
Thanks Siri pic.twitter.com/EocnLqcAQ0
— Damian from Brighton (@damian_from) July 22, 2019
With the ongoing attack against Corbyn’s Labour, and the likelihood that Boris Johnson is set to be the next prime minister, Swinson’s election casts further stones in the UK’s murky political soup. But there’s a big chance that she’d also rather many people forgot (or didn’t know about) her cruel and vicious political history. So it’s up to all of us to make sure she can’t hide that.
Featured image via Flickr – Liberal Democrats
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