Friday, 21 September 2018
Ian Kearns is the former Deputy Director of the IPPR thinktank and an author. He made a speech at this year's Lib Dem autumn conference which is well worth reading in which he talked about why he had left Labour for the Liberal Democrats.
He has also written in the Independent on the same topic and about how it was the importance of the social liberal tradition that drew him to the Liberal Democrats. We reproduce the article below with his kind permission:
There is nothing that this country needs today that cannot be drawn from a social liberal rather than a socialist tradition.
After many years in the Labour Party, and after many months of agonising, I left the party in June of this year to join the Liberal Democrats. This is why.
At home, the idea that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is radical is a myth. Its 2017 manifesto was a travesty of a document for a party that claims to believe in a more equal society.
The biggest single spending commitment in it was the £11.2bn set aside to abolish university tuition fees and reintroduce student grants. The majority of those who would benefit are from the wealthier end of the income distribution. They need help, for sure, and this could be achieved by switching to a graduate tax and some additional support from general taxation but, in the same manifesto, Labour failed to commit to reverse the closures of Sure Start centres and refused to reverse all the Tory government’s welfare cuts. They refused to do this, even though we know life chances are largely locked in by age three or four, the problem Sure Start was designed to address, and even though those on welfare are some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Corbyn’s manifesto demonstrated that he is prepared to pour money into the middle class while screwing the poor, including the youngest of the poor, if that’s what it takes to get elected. And on top of that, his catastrophic position on Brexit would reduce tax receipts and lead to further cuts in the public services relied on most by the least well off. Labour can’t defend the poor while being complicit in making them poorer.