Talking to the Liberals and doing murky deals sends a defeatist message for 2015

by Pete Bowyer

To the charge of opposing the Liberal Democrat Party, I plead guilty. I am proud to do so. Since being elected in a former Liberal council seat 10 years ago, I have steadfastly stood against the opportunism of a party that says one thing and does the opposite.

But my loyalty to Labour stretches further, much further, back. Thirty years ago, in 1983, I may well have been the only person in the country to have actually joined the party as it launched the longest suicide note in history. It took fourteen more painful years of struggle before we formed a Labour government of which I am immensely proud.

So, despite what David Clark says, nothing, including my intense dislike of the Liberals, should detract us from the urgent need to get rid of this terrible government and to replace it by a progressive Labour one. But as contributors to these pages have noted, much work is still needed before we can be confident of doing so.

Where I, and other activists in the party, diverge from David and his intellectual cabal, is the signal of defeat we will send to the electorate if we hoist up the white flag now and start collaborating with our erstwhile political enemies in getting rid of this murky coalition only to end up compromised by a murky coalition of our own!

Our position, on the other hand, is simple and straightforward. Up and down the country, we must target the most vulnerable seats of whichever political persuasion, as the party rightly indicated only yesterday, to bring us a clear victory at the next election. We should do so openly and plainly without entering into a grubby alliance with a party that I do not believe shares our core, progressive values.

If we are not victorious, so be it.  Let us then examine the arithmetic in the House and plan accordingly. It is difficult to imagine though that the Liberals will be much more than half their present strength, so unlikely to hold us hostage in the event of a minority Labour government.

By going quickly back to the electorate on the question of “who governs?”, we should be able to produce a more decisive outcome, as our predecessors have done before us. And on that basis we can legislate a progressive Labour agenda that both David and I want delivered without needing to compromise with a declining, marginal party.

Pete Bowyer is a councillor in Lambeth

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5 Responses to “Talking to the Liberals and doing murky deals sends a defeatist message for 2015”

  1. Linda Jack says:


    You bemoan Labour’s ‘longest suicide in history’ and then write one of your own! Your own party has been hijacked at times by both the left and right, my party is currently suffering from the same trauma – but this too will pass. While we have lost support those who still support us still divide 1/3 Tory leaning and 2/3 Labour leaning. This was born out in my own recent PCC election where my second preferences divided along those lines and undoubtedly contributed to the election of Olly Martins as Labour PCC.

    You are quite right to be angry at what Lib Dems in coalition are doing, I am equally, if not more angry, this is the party I have devoted most of my adult life to and I feel totally betrayed by what the party is signing up to, maybe how you felt when Blair took us into that illegal immoral war with Iraq. However, your blinkered tribalism misses what I thought was a shared value between our parties, namely to make the world a better place. Lib Dems and Labour have been able to do that elsewhere, in local and national government. To kick sand in the faces of the very people who may make the difference between a Labour victory or defeat next time is not only foolish it is a betrayal of all those you claim to support. And let’s not forget it is largely as a result of the failure of the last Labour government and the tribalism of senior Labour figures that we ended up in this mess in the first place.

  2. e says:

    @ Linda
    Of those who divide the vote: (particularly those with children) they have yet to experience the full consequences of the LibDem’s power in office. And, as so many like to say, “let’s be clear”, the cause of the mess is 30 + years of the wholesale accommodation of free market economics; and a coalition continuing along the same route post a collapse – not petty squabbles, that’s the stuff of distraction and destabilisation is it not?

  3. swatantra says:

    Yet another Lib Dem afraid to shoulder responsibility.
    You sometimes wonder why they ever bother.

  4. Mike Homfray says:

    Its really hard to see many shared values, though, when you look at what the LibDems have agreed to, Locally, they jump on any bandwagon going

  5. Robert says:

    Labour will need to consider the situation if Labour is the biggest party without a majority, the Lib Dems get 20-30 seats and a Con-Lib coalition is not possible. A stable coalition for five years would be better than either a minority government or an early election. I actually think that a Lab-Lib coalition would probably be a more progressive government than Labour between 1997 and 2010.

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