by David Clark
I’m pleased that the call I and others made today for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to begin preparing the ground for a possible coalition in the event of another hung parliament has started a debate. That was our aim.
My own priority is to get Labour into government, preferably with a majority. But Pete Bowyer and others seem to attach more importance to kicking the Liberal Democrats out, even if it means a weak minority Labour government unable to pass its own legislation or another election that risked a Tory majority. I can’t pretend to understand that mentality. I can only assume that the people who share it have different reasons for being involved in politics from me; perhaps a deeply felt need for tribal belonging or a zealous attachment to the colour red.
I want Labour to be in a position to put its ideas into practice because I believe they are best for the country. If the most effective route for achieving all or most of what we want is an arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, then so be it. It’s the policies that matter and all this talk about “Lib Dem betrayal” strikes me as trivial by comparison.
Only a fool imagines the next election is “in the bag” for Labour, a view Pete wrongly attributes to the signatories of our statement. I believe that Ed Miliband’s approach gives us the best possible chance, but the prospect of another hung parliament is real. In those circumstances I want a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats to be a realistic option. The right time to start creating that option is now, not the day after polling day when it will probably already be too late.
David Clark is editor of Shifting Grounds