by David Talbot
In the aftermath of the last general election Labour found themselves unable, or simply unwilling, to countenance a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Instead a “big, open and comprehensive offer” was made, and the rest is history.
Two and a half years later, Labour cannot repeat the failures of the dying days of the last Labour government. The party must overcome its resentment and disappointment at the ending of our 13 years of power to at last build a tolerant relationship with the Lib Dems. The current bitterness between the two parties serves no purpose in an era when majoritarian politics is seemingly irrevocably on the decline.
It will take compromise, not a trait that readily identifiable with the Labour party. The Lib Dems, rightly, resent the way Labour behaves as if it owns their voters, and the machine tribalism that predominates within the party.
Rather than giving the Lib Dems reasons to hesitate about the Conservatives, Labour’s behaviour to date has simply galvanised their determination to stay within the current coalition. The party was taken aback when the Lib Dems showed the capability and determination to enter coalition with the Conservatives. Nothing suggests that they wouldn’t do it again if the political climate is right. In response, Labour needs to have a strategy for making itself an attractive suitor.
David Talbot is a political consultant