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Politics no image

Published on June 9th, 2012 | by Kirsty McKellar
Image © [caption id="attachment_10278" align="alignnone" width="565" caption="Is a Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition possible after the next election?"][/caption]   As the Liberal Democrats entered into coalition with the Conservatives, political experts warned the Labour Party not to burn their bridges with the Lib Dems. Labour officials have recently moved from strong criticism of Nick Clegg and his party to more complimentary comments, perhaps buttering them up for potential cooperation if there is another hung parliament in the next election. In Lord Bassam’s open letter to his Lib Dem counterpart Lord Newby, he urged them to ‘keep the lines of communication open’ and called on them as a ‘flexible friend of other parties’. It has also emerged that Vince Cable and Ed Miliband have been speaking on the phone, hence many commentators believe that the two parties could be preparing the ground work for a new Lib-Lab alliance. In 2010, Nick Clegg stated that he could work with Labour just not with Gordon Brown. So if there were to be a hung parliament again in 2015 a Lib-Lab coalition would not be so surprising. Especially after Lord Adonis recently implied that there were several Liberal Democrats who wanted out of the current coalition, and that informal discussions were underway to find a common ground between the two parties. In a rather insulting, yet undeniable, statement to the Liberal Democrats Lord Bassam wrote that ‘the last couple of years have been a bit bruising for your colleagues in this house, and no doubt they will be looking forward to a change of management to see if it brings some light relief’. It is clear that many Lib Dem voters feel let down by the party after they have allowed a privatised NHS, increased University tuition fees and many more policy U-turns. And with the YouGov/Sun Report showing Labour leading in the Polls with 43% and the Liberal Democrats lagging at just 8%, perhaps they should seize the opportunity to work with the Labour Party. Although the two have disagreed in the past over issues such as Lords Reform, party funding and deficit reduction, if the Lib Dems really are dead in the water and Labour want to prevent another Conservative government a Lib-Lab pact may be in the pipeline. The alliance of the seventies wasn’t exactly successful but it has not ruled out a future coalition. A pact became an option again in 1997 in order to get the Conservatives out of power, and now phrases such as a ‘progressive coalition’ are being used and a tight election is already being predicted for 2015 which helps to explain why parties are planning to buddy-up. This could merely be the Liberal Democrats trying to retain some form of power, even if it is as little as what they have now. Lord Bassam described the Liberal Democrats as ‘agonised souls’ in his letter, and whilst it is difficult to deny that they have come across as weak in government, Lib-Dem Peer Lord Oakenshott retaliated stating that the tone of the letter was not the way to build Lib-Lab cooperation. If the electorate is as disappointed in the Liberal Democrats as many people believe then it could be that their voters may turn to Labour, therefore should the party do so too? Is cooperation with Labour the only option for the Lib Dems as tension in the current coalition builds? John Curtice, amongst others, believes that it may be in Labour’s advantage to be in a position to wheel and deal with the Lib Dem leadership. It is debateable whether the electorate would trust the Lib Dems in a coalition again, and if they are simply a sinking ship they may be seen to bring down any party they collaborate with. It may be that events over recent years have left the Lib Dems as merely a ‘flexible friend of other parties’, and not strong enough on their own. There is time yet for them to prove themselves, but if they are already planning to cooperate with Labour then relations in government may be strained.

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A New Lib-Lab Pact?

Is a Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition possible after the next election?

 

As the Liberal Democrats entered into coalition with the Conservatives, political experts warned the Labour Party not to burn their bridges with the Lib Dems. Labour officials have recently moved from strong criticism of Nick Clegg and his party to more complimentary comments, perhaps buttering them up for potential cooperation if there is another hung parliament in the next election. In Lord Bassam’s open letter to his Lib Dem counterpart Lord Newby, he urged them to ‘keep the lines of communication open’ and called on them as a ‘flexible friend of other parties’. It has also emerged that Vince Cable and Ed Miliband have been speaking on the phone, hence many commentators believe that the two parties could be preparing the ground work for a new Lib-Lab alliance.

In 2010, Nick Clegg stated that he could work with Labour just not with Gordon Brown. So if there were to be a hung parliament again in 2015 a Lib-Lab coalition would not be so surprising. Especially after Lord Adonis recently implied that there were several Liberal Democrats who wanted out of the current coalition, and that informal discussions were underway to find a common ground between the two parties. In a rather insulting, yet undeniable, statement to the Liberal Democrats Lord Bassam wrote that ‘the last couple of years have been a bit bruising for your colleagues in this house, and no doubt they will be looking forward to a change of management to see if it brings some light relief’. It is clear that many Lib Dem voters feel let down by the party after they have allowed a privatised NHS, increased University tuition fees and many more policy U-turns. And with the YouGov/Sun Report showing Labour leading in the Polls with 43% and the Liberal Democrats lagging at just 8%, perhaps they should seize the opportunity to work with the Labour Party.

Although the two have disagreed in the past over issues such as Lords Reform, party funding and deficit reduction, if the Lib Dems really are dead in the water and Labour want to prevent another Conservative government a Lib-Lab pact may be in the pipeline. The alliance of the seventies wasn’t exactly successful but it has not ruled out a future coalition. A pact became an option again in 1997 in order to get the Conservatives out of power, and now phrases such as a ‘progressive coalition’ are being used and a tight election is already being predicted for 2015 which helps to explain why parties are planning to buddy-up.

This could merely be the Liberal Democrats trying to retain some form of power, even if it is as little as what they have now. Lord Bassam described the Liberal Democrats as ‘agonised souls’ in his letter, and whilst it is difficult to deny that they have come across as weak in government, Lib-Dem Peer Lord Oakenshott retaliated stating that the tone of the letter was not the way to build Lib-Lab cooperation. If the electorate is as disappointed in the Liberal Democrats as many people believe then it could be that their voters may turn to Labour, therefore should the party do so too? Is cooperation with Labour the only option for the Lib Dems as tension in the current coalition builds? John Curtice, amongst others, believes that it may be in Labour’s advantage to be in a position to wheel and deal with the Lib Dem leadership. It is debateable whether the electorate would trust the Lib Dems in a coalition again, and if they are simply a sinking ship they may be seen to bring down any party they collaborate with. It may be that events over recent years have left the Lib Dems as merely a ‘flexible friend of other parties’, and not strong enough on their own. There is time yet for them to prove themselves, but if they are already planning to cooperate with Labour then relations in government may be strained.

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About the Author

Kirsty McKellar

Kirsty has recently graduated from the University of Liverpool, obtaining a degree in Politics and Criminology (BA Hons). She is mostly interested in British politics, particularly the policies of the current coalition government. After completing her dissertation on the reasons for youth voter apathy with a First classification, she has developed a keen interest in young people’s relationship with and participation in politics. Kirsty has also undertaken some valuable work experience with her local MP, Esther McVey. She enjoyed the experience of working in local politics with Members of Parliament and Wirral Borough Council, helping to organise a charity event for the Big Lottery Fund. Kirsty intends to move to London this year to pursue a career in politics and social research, as it is something that she has always been passionate about.



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