Lambeth’s Lib Dem boss has been touring London training Lib Dem councillors how to run cynical campaigns that blame Labour for his own Government’s cuts. At a secret session in Islington that Lib Dem councillor Ashley Lumsden helped run, party members were told to “create confusion and division” by setting “traps and ambushes”. But on the subject of his party’s Conservative allies Lumsden’s colleagues were cynically warned “don’t get caught defending the Tories”.
Public services are facing the biggest cuts since the Second World War thanks to decisions taken by the Tory-Lib Dem Government to cut too hard and too deep in paying back the cost of bailing out the banks. But instead of sharing the pain fairly across the country, the Government has chosen to hit poorer areas like Lambeth hardest while letting wealthier areas off the hook. But instead of joining forces with local people to defend Lambeth against his Government’s decisions, a secret Lib Dem dossier urges Lumsden’s councillors “do not be a constructive opposition” and speaking about cuts in local services says “it is not our problem”.
The Tory-Lib Dem Government is targeting pain on the poorest in society with plans to quadruple social rents, end secure tenancies and force poor people out of inner city areas. But instead of opposing such brutal plans, Lumsden’s Lib Dem dossier urges his councillors to highlight Labour attempts to protect the ‘have-nots’ at the expense of the ‘haves’ to sow division.
What is so shocking about Lumsden’s party’s tactics is their complete disregard for the plight of the people their Government’s cuts will hurt the most. They don’t seem to care how much pain and misery they cause, their only concern is how best to shrug off the blame.
We always knew the Lib Dems in Lambeth were a shameless bunch, but the depth of cynicism revealed in these documents shows they simply don’t care about people at all. Their only interest is in grabbing power as deceitfully as possible, not in using power to do good or to defend local communities.
Not all Lib Dems are like this. There are decent people in their party and there are decent Lib Dem councillors. Many of them share the widespread anger at how Nick Clegg broke his promises on VAT hikes, tuition fees and cuts. Now that Lumsden has shown he’s just as bad as his party’s national leader I would like to extend an invitation to disillusioned members of his party to join the many hundreds who have already left the Lib Dems and joined Labour. We welcome everyone who wants to be part of the struggle to protect our communities from a Government intent on savaging them. That’s so much more worthwhile than playing cynical party politics, Cllr Lumsden.