Posts Tagged ‘Lib Lab pact’

Could someone please be sensible about a Lib Lab coalition?

23/01/2013, 07:00:12 AM

by Ian Stewart

Thank you Andrew Rawnsley. No, really – this was exactly the right time to bring up the possibility of Nick Clegg clinging to office by whatever means necessary after 2015.

Of course, Andrew was simply doing what he is paid for – writing speculative fiction that tantalises Observer readers every Sunday. After all, with Len Mcluskey giving one of the most important speeches from any trade union leader in ages, it was obviously a slow week in politics. Oh, and Cameron running away (again) on Europe, those nasty cuts to all those skiving strivers in the NHS, the armed forces; the firefighters’ warning of a looming crisis in our emergency services, yes, nothing to worry the world of high politics.

Now predictably the reaction to Rawnsleys’ article on Sunday has fallen into two camps – those who are trenchantly against any co-operation, and those who, for all sorts of reasons, favour some kind of Lib-Lab alliance. I can find no coherent reason to join the latter camp, yet I also reject the former.

The situation as I understand it is this: Ed and Nick are no longer throwing dung at each other. Outside of Westminster, the Lib Dems still covet the ambition to replace Labour as the main contender to the Tories, and, in differing areas, act accordingly. Most true blue Tories still detest the orange bookers, and blame government failure on them, rather than on Osborne’s economic incompetence.


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

11/01/2013, 08:35:58 AM

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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Getting Labour into government is more important than a tribal urge to kick the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 07:25:55 PM

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

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Labour must overcome its resentment and deal more maturely with the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 06:22:03 PM

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

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Attacking the Tories is our priority but we shouldn’t be afraid of finding common ground with the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 04:37:04 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The Conservatives are the fundamental barrier to a Labour government, capable of correcting the division, injustice and incompetence that they have brought us. David Cameron and his party is our enemy. We should target our fire upon him and them.

He must be made to accept responsibility for his misguided decisions, instead of blaming his failings upon the past government, and the gulf in values between our party and the Conservatives should be consistently emphasised.

Attacking the Liberal Democrats is a distraction and suits Cameron. We should call his bluff.

This means focusing our attacks on Cameron and the Conservatives in public and below the radar building bridges and back-channels with the Liberal Democrats. A mature politics should not be scared of acknowledging that many Labour members – like me – share common ground with many Liberal Democrats on issues like the EU, an elected second chamber and wealth taxation.

Labour will be confident in setting out a prospectus for governing the country from 2015. In the event of a hung parliament, however, we would be well-served by having openly acknowledged, well in advance and in a spirit of mutual respect, our points of agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Jonathan Todd is Labour Uncut’s economic columnist

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The Lib Dems have betrayed the country and we must wipe them out

10/01/2013, 03:53:25 PM

by Andrew Sumner

I’m with Pete Bowyer on this one. The Lib Dems behaviour over the past few years has been shameful. Actions must have consequences. Their betrayal of the British people must not be rewarded with a cosy coalition with Labour. What will the public think to see the apologists for Osborne’s austerity climbing into bed with Labour and securing their own jobs while thousands have lost theirs?

If we are serious about opposing this government then the Lib Dems are every bit as much to blame as the Tories. Those who back a Lib Lab pact can talk about issues like House of Lords reform or constitutional change but these are for the chattering classes. On the things that really matter, on jobs, the health service, education and welfare, we couldn’t be further apart from the Tories’ current partners.

Besides, in practical terms, it’s difficult to see how they walk back from the disgraceful policies that they have done their level best to pass in the House of Commons. So no, we shouldn’t be playing nicely with the Lib Dems, we should be fighting them and doing our best to wipe them out.

Andrew Sumner is a Labour activist

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Let’s not risk coalition part II

10/01/2013, 03:33:05 PM

by Kevin Meagher

In 2015 I want to see a majority Labour government. I certainly don’t want to see a majority Conservative government. I can live with a Labour-Lib Dem government.

This, in essence, needs to be the calculation as Labour approaches the next general election. Opening up a dialogue with the Lib Dems around themes of mutual attraction is an act of utility; a contingency in the event of another inconclusive election result.

After all, a valedictory Tony Blair warned that the age of tribal politics is behind us with “rampant cross-dressing” increasingly the norm. There is plainly more that unites Labour and Lib Dems around issues like Europe and House of Lords reform than divides the two parties, so why not look for areas of overlap?

Especially when it has the potential to drive a wedge between the coalition partners. So an insurance policy for the future and a means of peeling the Lib Dems away from their cruel suitors in the bargain. What’s not to support here?

The alternative – sitting and waiting for the outcome of 2015 – risks repeating the mistake of 2010, as Labour’s team went naked into the chamber to negotiate with Clegg’s people, before a better-prepared Cameron swept in with his “big, open and comprehensive offer”. The rest is history.

Surely we aren’t going to risk a repeat?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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We should attack the Lib Dems not cave in to them

10/01/2013, 02:50:00 PM

by Pete Bowyer

With David Clark et al’s letter to the Guardian today, Labour’s defeatist tendency is once again on the march, prematurely calling for a Lib-Lab coalition following the 2015 general election.

After a year in which the Lib Dems fortunes have sunk to an all time low, and Labour has established a clear, if soft, lead in the polls, it is perverse that we should be preparing the ground now for a future coalition with a toxic political party. Just ask the Tories!

Those of us who have long confronted the Lib Dems on the ground in local politics, have become weary of the suggestion that they are a truly progressive force in British politics. Here in Lambeth, their short-lived, single term coalition with the Tories saw council tax rise by almost 40%, social housing conditions deteriorate and severe cuts across the board in local services.

Ironically, many of the signatories to the letters are fully signed up members to “the 2015 Election is already in the bag” brigade, which makes you wonder how confident they are in their own predictions. Those of us who are not quite so complacent, believe it is incumbent on all party members to campaign for a majority Labour government, rather than throwing our opponents a political lifeline.

If, in the event, we fail to achieve one, the parliamentary arithmetic will dictate next steps. The instincts of most Labour party members would be to proceed with a minority government initially, and call an early second election to establish a clear mandate as soon as the opportunity arose, a strategy which David Cameron was extremely foolish not to follow in 2010.

In the meantime, we should continue to attack the Lib Dems, not cave in to them.

Pete Bowyer is a councillor in Lambeth

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