‘People are dying because of what you did’: Jo Swinson confronted by student over Lib Dem-Tory coalition record

‘I know people who have suffered so much and it breaks my heart,’ socialist student tells party leader

Jane Dalton
Friday 22 November 2019 16:55 GMT
Jo Swinson confronted in Glasgow over Lib Dem austerity record

Jo Swinson was accused of leading a party that caused people to die through its involvement in austerity as she was confronted by a student on the campaign trail.

“People are dying here in poverty because of what you’ve done on austerity,” Jay Sutherland told the Lib Dem leader as a crowd of onlookers and photographers gathered.

Ms Swinson, who was in Glasgow with Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, listened as the 18-year-old attacked her party’s record on supporting drastic cutbacks to public services when in coalition with the David Cameron's Conservatives.

“I think it is unforgivable what you’ve done to Glasgow – cities like this,” the University of Strathclyde student said.

“I know people who have suffered so much and it breaks my heart. People are dying because of austerity – do you know that? Because of the Lib Dems enabling that.”

Ms Swinson encouraged him to look at the party’s plans for the future, saying: “We are setting out a lot more money to put into Universal Credit.”

But Mr Sutherland, an organiser of Scotland Against Militarism, described as “a radical campaign to oppose militarism and work towards a full ban of the military in education”, responded: “It’s just not good enough, just not good enough.

"I’m a student here in Scotland and luckily I get free education but look at the Lib Dems in England – you traded students in and I don’t think people will ever forgive you for that.”

While in power with the Tories from 2010 to 2015, the Lib Dems went back on a pledge not to introduce tuition fees for students, although 21 of the party’s MPs rebelled in the vote. Nick Clegg, then party leader, later apologised for having made the promise.

Asked by Mr Rennie about the climate emergency, the socialist-backing student replied: “The Lib Dems support capitalism and capitalism is not a viable option.”

“You’re entitled to that view, and I think we should reform capitalism,” Ms Swinson said.

Mr Sutherland, who describes himself as an activist for a grassroots radical movement for Scottish independence, said it was sad to see the MPs in Glasgow, “the city hit hardest by austerity in Scotland”.

The Lib Dems have been approached for comment.

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