By Seema Chandwani
Like millions of people, I was astonished when the Lib Dems joined forces with the Tories to form the Con-Dem coalition government. It was the ultimate betrayal to the electorate. But what followed could never be forgiven.
The policies of the coalition government were the biggest attack on working class people for decades. The Lib Dems were not silent by-standers but complicit, and their Leader, Jo Swinson is more than guilty of the destruction we see in our society today.
She cannot be trusted, she has demonstrated that in power, she is dangerous.
Below are just some of the policies Jo Swinson voted for which you can use on the Labour Doorstep or on social media to deter people from voting for the Lib Dems.
- Bedroom Tax: Jo Swinson voted consistently for the Bedroom Tax. The Centre for Welfare Reform has found that the Bedroom Tax has increased poverty in the UK. Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing showed 59% of people affected by the Bedroom Tax had fallen behind on their rent and of those who have paid, 26% had borrowed money and 57% are cutting back on household essentials.
- Benefit Cap: Jo Swinson voted to cap the total amount of welfare benefits people can claim. Despite Women’s Aid and The Children’s Commissioner expressing fears on women and children, Ms Swinson still voted for this disgraceful policy. Research by the TUC showed that 74% of the people hit by the benefit cap were single parents and 97% of those affected were families with children.
- Removal of Council Tax Benefits: Nicknamed at the time as the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’ – instead of the government paying this benefit directly, it gave the responsibility to local councils, except only supplying 90% of money needed. As Council’s protected pensioners, it meant those who were working aged and the poorest in our society who used to have 100% off their council tax would have to pay around 20%. Jo Swinson voted for this.
- Scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA): Jo Swinson voted to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance. The EMA was for young people from poorer families to claim up to £30 a week to stay in education.
- Jobs Guarantee for Young People: Jo Swinson voted against a tax on bank bonuses to fund guaranteed jobs for young people.
- Increasing Tuition Fees: Jo Swinson voted to increase tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000 a year. Student debt has since risen above £100 billion.
- Reducing Funding to Local Councils: Jo Swinson voted to reduce funding to Local Council’s which across the country has led to the closure of Children’s Centres, Youth Centres Day Care Centres, Libraries and other vital services.
- Regulation of the Private Rented Sector: Jo Swinson voted against clearer information of charges, against more regulation of the private rented sector and a national register of landlords.
- Selling England’s Forests: Jo Swinson voted for the sale of England’s forests. The proposal was so bad, the government had to u-turn following protests. Increase Rail Fares: Jo Swinson voted against capping annual fair increases. At the time, the Director of the campaign group ‘Transform Scotland’ said: “The announcement also represents a major u-turn by the Liberal Democrats as they promised a reduction in rail fares in their manifesto for the 2010 General Election.”
- Betting Shop Regulations: Jo Swinson voted against specific planning permission for betting shops.
- Privatisation of Royal Mail: Jo Swinson voted to privatise up to 90% of Royal Mail. This has led to the separation of Royal Mail and the Post Office, with over 14,000 job losses.
- Legal Aid Cuts: Jo Swinson voted against making legal aid available in respect of social welfare decisions, clinical negligence decisions and had such a dramatic impact on victims of domestic violence that faith groups leaders across the country. In 2016 the Liberal Democrats passed a conference motion expressing “regret” at the party’s role in making swingeing cuts to the “disproportionate and dramatic” legal aid budget during the 2010-15 coalition government.
These decisions had consequences; poverty has risen, homelessness is up 169% since 2010, over 1.6 million people went to a foodbank for help this year, 4 million children are living in relative poverty, 1,000 Sure Start centres have closed, household debt has increased, school have had the worst fall in funding since the 1970s.
The public need to know who Jo Swinson is and what she is capable of if ever let anywhere near power again.