Your opinion on a Lib Lab coalition doesn’t matter. Labour are going for one anyway.

by Atul Hatwal

Quite a little kerfuffle today as various Labour voices have sounded dissonant notes on the desirability of a coalition with the Lib Dems. The spark to ignite the Lib-Lab tinder was Nick Clegg’s open discussion about the possibility of a future coalition with Labour. The internal Labour discussion has been earnest and heartfelt, but above all, entirely pointless.

Labour activists and commentators can talk about the pros and cons of a coalition with the Lib Dems ad infinitum, but the decision has already been made. The opinions do not matter, Labour is going for a coalition with the Lib Dems come what may.

The evidence is apparent in the reprioritisation of Labour’s 106 key seats.

A month ago Uncut reported that Labour had significantly scaled back its key seat ambitions. This was always going to happen – there was no way a constituency on the list like Bermondsey and Southwark, held comfortably by Simon Hughes since 1983, was going to receive the same level of support as a seat like Stockton South where the Tories only have a majority of 332 and that Labour held solidly in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

But it is the scale of reprioritisation which effectively means Labour has abandoned thoughts of governing alone and is now aiming for coalition with Lib Dems.

Labour’s struggle in the south in particular is crippling the party’s ability to push for a clear majority. Party sources suggest that doubts among southern voters on Labour’s economic credibility and Ed Miliband’s leadership are making comparatively small Conservative majorities difficult to overturn.

One seasoned campaign professional with knowledge of the resources being allocated to key seats has indicated to Uncut that the high command now views majorities of over 2,400 in the south as increasingly beyond Labour’s reach.

Out of the 43 key seats in London, the south east, the south west and eastern regions, 28 have a majority of over 2,400 which would mean Labour is effectively concentrating on 15 seats.

Expectations are higher in the 63 seats in the north, north west, east midlands, west midlands, Wales and Scotland. But even here there are limits, with the source suggesting that based on current canvass returns and the performance of the incumbent MPs, majorities of over 5,000 will be extremely difficult to overturn.

There are 13 seats in these regions which have majorities of over 5,000, which when combined with the southern seats that are being de-prioritised sums to a total of 41 key seats where Labour is ramping down resources because it does not expect to win.

This gives an effective key seat total of 65 rather than 106 .

If all 65 were secured, and none of Labour’s vulnerable current seats are lost (let’s not forget, 17 have majorities in three figures) then Labour would have 323 seats – technically a majority of the Commons’ 345 MPs, given the 5 Sinn Fein MPs do not take their seats.

However there is little appetite within Labour’s high command for the instability that governing alone would entail. With the party already committed to major cuts, the prospect of repeated rebellions from the left, destroying the government’s ability to deliver its agenda, is one that strategists are keen to avoid.

Which is why Labour’s leaders are now privately committed to a new Lib-Lab coalition. There is no debate to be had. The only remaining question within the upper echelons of the party on this topic is whether Labour can secure enough key seats to make this a reality.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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13 Responses to “Your opinion on a Lib Lab coalition doesn’t matter. Labour are going for one anyway.”

  1. Robert says:

    I hope that you are right. A Lab-Lib coalition is the best possible result for Labour in 2015.

  2. swatantra says:

    We need a Govt of National Unity to get the country out of its current mess, and set it forward into this C21. Basically we could do with taking the politics out of Govt until we are well on the road to recovery and until the basic underlying problems have been sorted out. These problems require us all working together co-operatively.

  3. southern voter says:

    Labour must do no deals with Clegg.This is a pre-condition for any deals with the Lib Dems.Clegg must go before any deals are done.
    Clegg is toxic property and Labour must not do any deals which keep him
    in power.

  4. Steve in Somerset says:

    It would be foolish not to leave open the possibility of a lab-lib coalition. If the option was remain in opposition, try to run as a minority government, or coalition, then the last is the only possible way forward.

    To that end, screwing over the Libs would be counter-productive.

  5. Tafia says:

    Just remember, when Balls was negotiating with the LibDems in 2010. the demands he was trying to force the LibDems to accept were derisory and they won’t have forgotten that.

    Do you seriously think they won’t want a spot of revenge? And they will be demanding SoS in 2 out of DPM, Chancellor, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, and junior Minister in the two they don’t get plus a shed load more. They’ve also learnt their lesson in dealing with the tories and will want any policy agreements in the first Queens Speech – just some vague promise ‘during this Parliament’ will get two fingers.

    Anyway, as at stands, the SNP will be bigger than the LibDems and you can only imagine what their demands would be.

  6. sean Connor says:

    If Labour goes into a Coalition with the Lib-Dems then they are finished. The Clegg and his fellow Tory sympathisers can go to hell. He has destroyed what was good in Britain. I, and many others, will not support such a coalition, and Labour could lose outright in 2015.

  7. Renie Anjeh says:

    I disagree. I can’t see many Labour MPs (or even some Lib Dems) support a Lib-Lab Coalition. It would be the worst possible result and would damage Labour. I think it’s unlikely.

  8. uglyfatbloke says:

    Taffia – re; the SNP geting more MPs than the Glib-Dumbs……I’ve been pointing out this possibility for ages but to no avail, so I’m glad to see soeone else bring it up. I ‘m not suggesting it’s particularly likely, just that it is possible. I suspect that a couple of good – but rather predictable – by-election results have encouraged an overly-optimistic view of the situation in Scotland. Unless there is some really major shift the glibs are going to be thoroughly dusted in Scotland (oh how tragic). A very senior Scottish glib reckons that they will hold four seats and win none. I think that that would actually be a pretty good result for them. I expect they’ll hang on to two. Additionally the gnats are eyeing up a fair number of Labour seats. There are several reasons why they should. Cooperation with the tories in the referendum campaign is n’t playing very well with a lot of Labour voters and following Osborne’s lead over things like the currency question has not been clever. Most people I meet see that as electoral tactics and mostly they are a bit pissed-off about it. The implication that rUK will get to keep all the assets but Scotland will get a per-head share of the debt is a good way to drive people to the gnats and any case it’s just crap.
    On the wider stage, if it looks like the tories might win the GE – or even just be the biggest party – it’s going to be difficult to persuade voters to stick with Labour to keep the tories at arms length.
    This is largely because of the track record of Scottish MPs during the last tory government and the current crop of MPs. With a few honourable exceptions they’re a pretty lacklustre lot.
    Of course things may change, but right now there’s a good chance that the gnats can get 40% of the Scottish vote, in which case they will stand to take a lot of Scottish seats because FPTP will work for them instead of against them as it always has in the past. We get a bit complacent about Scottish electoral maths because of FPTP favours in the past, but the risk is there. I’m told that the bookies won’t give ‘attractive’ odds on the gnats having less than 20 seats. I know nowt about gambling so I’ve no real idea what ‘attractive’ really means in this context, but I am aware that bookies are pretty conservative about these things and also very good judges of them, so I’d guess that they expect the gnats to do better than 20. If they get sweep up the glibs as we should expect they might well take a dozen seats from Labour as well and end up with closer to 30. I can hear voices spluttering in the ether…’Impossible!’…but remember that the Holyrood system was specifically designed to protect Labour and the Libs in the FPTP section and split the PR section across all the parties thus preventing the gnats from ever being the biggest party …so that’s worked really well…..
    As for a deal with the gnats…Ed must be aware – and if he’s not he needs some better advisers – that the gnats won’t go into a coalition with the tories, but that would n’t stop them giving Cameron confidence and supply in exchange for FFA or something very close to it.
    OTH Ed surely knows that Scottish MPs would go berserk at the prospect of any kind of a deal with the gnats, but there again there might no be all that many of them and several of those would be going on payroll as ministers anyway.
    What would be the price of a deal with the gnats? They’d go a long way to get FFA and Ed would certainly be able to get a much better deal than Cameron since there is very little real political difference. Ed Balls would baulk at FFA, but he’d rather be in government than opposition so he’d accept it to get into No.11 Downing Street. Other than FFA? Perhaps the end of the Supreme Court – it’s not really constitutionally kosher – and certainly the return of coastal waters to Scottish jurisdiction; no good reason why not since that had worked perfectly well for the previous 300 years of the Union. Those would be big successes for the gnats, but not actually very significant concessions for Ed.
    Beyond that the gnats would make a noise about Trident, but actually it suits them to have it on the Clyde as a political tool and nowhere else would accept it anyway.

  9. uglyfatbloke says:

    Sorry about the typos…can’t find my specs and I find the font/size of the ‘writing’ box a bit hard to read.

  10. Ben says:

    You’re assuming the Lib Dems will want to work with you.

    While the stories of the Lib Dem membership shifting to the right since 2010 are exaggerated, it’s certainly true that many of those most keen on a Lib/Lab deal are no longer around. As a Lib Dem activist, I can say with certainty that four years of being attacked by Labour in opposition – often viciously, in some cases physically – has not made me or many of my colleagues any more enthusiastic about going into government with you.

    Add to that the reports to day that Labour intend to target Clegg’s constituency out of personal spite (It is not winnable. Labour are in 3rd place and have not won it in nearly 130 years of its existence) – and you’re looking at trying to deal with a very bitter group of people who, by virtue of the fact they are Lib Dems, did not go into politics with the sole aim of governing (though it would be nice) and who thus can walk away at pretty much any time and whose backs have been well and truly got up.

    Who’s to say the Lib Dem party members and even a good chunk of parliamentarians aren’t going to look at Eds Balls and Miliband sitting on say 315 seats, struggling to pull a government together with both hands and say “Carry on, mate.”

    Keep the DUP’s number handy is all I’m saying.

  11. paul barker says:

    I am confused, Dan Hodges & Labour List both claim the Party Leadership has ruled out working with The LibDems, in fact the aim is to Crush them. If you are right about the Target seats that suggests that Labour at the top are planning another 5 years in opposition. What do you think?

  12. Robert says:

    All that people like me are saying is that we would prefer a Labour-led government to a Tory-led government. So if the choice is between another Con-Lib coalition or a Lab-Lib coalition, we will always choose the latter.

    Of course, we might find out in 2015 that the Lib Dems would prefer coalition with the Tories. That would be disappointing but it would mean that Labour would without doubt be the progressive party in British politics. Ruling out a coalition might actually be letting the Lib Dems off the hook.

  13. James says:

    It that is really the thinking of the Labour party then I feel very saddened, personally I would have to consider very hard if Labour was going to keep my vote, if there is going to be no difference to policy between the parties then I think Labour are in trouble.

    If in my personal world (my bubble) the expectation is that I am going to suffer whichever party is in government then I have a serious problem, I am one of the many sick and disabled people who are being squeezed; I never ever thought I would have to even consider not voting at all.

    I think if this option is expressed in the media before the next GE many people will just stay at home, I don’t think politicians understand the anger and resentment towards the government parties.

    Having bad representation is not worth the effort, how long before we have life ending hospitals, as in the film Soylent Green…

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