Monday, 10 March 2014

Death Wish Lib Dems

Registering now regularly below 10% in the national polls, the Lib Dems are showing increasingly frayed nerves as The Reckoning of the 2015 General Election gradually draws into sight. And looming large between now and then, the Slaughterhouse of the Euro-elections also beckons so very terrifyingly - even their own President, Tim Farron, concedes they may be completely wiped out in the Euros. Hurriedly, northern Lib Dem MPs have issued a report attacking austerity a mere four years and hundreds of Commons votes too late. Meanwhile, shaken by the rise of UKIP in the polls, Eurofanatic leader Nick Clegg is to face his opposite number among the Eurosceptics, Nigel Farage, in a debate that is likely to be about as compellingly memorable viewing as the final episode of BBC Eurosoap El Dorado. (remember?)

Against all this, they remain unapologetic for their years enabling the Tories to change Britain perhaps for a generation if not forever: in the stealth privatisation of the health service, the emasculation of local government via death by a million cuts, the stigmatising of disabled people as a drain on society and a host of tax cuts and regulatory changes to support big corporate business. They've made tough decisions, they claim - all too often rather too eagerly and proudly to sustain their facade of reluctance for long.

And now, today, their hubris, their delusion and their death wish stand naked before us all.

The Green Party received a leaked memo from the Lib Dem Head of Campaigns setting out their plans to target the Greens at the Euroelections.

First of all, it is a perhaps sound acknowledgement of the very real threat the Greens pose to the Lib Dems in the elections: with 2 sitting MEPs and strong chances of adding at least a further 4 or more to their total, they stand poised to overtake the junior Coalition partner in both seats and votes, making in effect as big a story as any rise in UKIP support. The Lib Dems nervousness is well founded here.

Less well founded is their target for their "smearing" of the Greens as "dinosaur left-wingers that are more red than green." It seems that the Lib Dems (whose constitutional name is still the Social & Liberal Democrats) view the Greens commitment to social justice and a more equal society as Jurassic age communism. So be it. It is far less of a commentary on the Greens than on just how far the Lib Dems have travelled in their power-seeking odyssey and how pathetically desperate they are to cling onto the privileges and office-troughs they have their snouts so firmly stuck in.

For the appalling truth the Lib Dems plan to reveal about the Greens is the party's opposition to TTIP; the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership currently being (secretly) negotiated between the EU and the USA. This treaty sets up a free-trade zone between these two areas, allegedly to help harmonise commercial standards on each side of the Pond, but also to facilitate the accumulation of wealth by large business corporations. Not only will trade duties be relaxed (denuding public treasuries of much needed tax revenue) but large American companies will be able to participate in public procurement in Europe (including the UK). Crucially, if the Governments of any European countries impose any restrictions through public policy that might reduce the profits of these predators, they will be able to sue that country for damages. Secret abritrators rather than public courts will decide such cases, making the whole process ever more opaque and undemocratic.

India and Australia have already come unstuck with similar treaties where companies have successfully sued over public health regulations at a cost of hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars to the taxpayer. Meanwhile, under its free trade treaty with Canada, Costa Rica faces paying out to Canadian gold mining interests for stopping them prospecting in environmentally sensitive areas of its country - no wonder some call the TTIP the BAD law: Business Against Democracy.

So this is what the Lib Dems will stand for against the Greens: they will plant their flags firmly in the dung heap of corporate capital. Pitching themselves against a party that stands for the interests of ordinary citizens and communities,  they will claim that the TTIP will create some jobs generously brought to us by here-today-gone-tomorrow multinationals chasing the lowest paid round the planet (even although most of the evidence of such deals points quite clearly in the opposite direction). Clegg and his Orcs think this will stir up such resentment that the public will turn away from the Greens' ideas for a living wage, a transaction tax, clampdowns on tax avoidance and extension of the public sector.  Judging the electorate by their own standards, they apparently believe voters will prefer their own slavish adherence to corporate Europe over the Greens' aspiration for a transformed social Europe working for people not profit.

Fine. Let them. The sooner they do, the better. It's getting boring now watching the long, lingering demise of this hubristic ragbag of puffed-up careerists: let's get it over with in time for the next season of The Walking Dead. Please.
Green Party Eurocandidates offered help for Lib Dem conference delegates troubled by their guilty consciences at a special Field Hospital in York last week. There were no takers.

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