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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The arrogance of old Labour

The Press Association carries a story today based on remarks by the Shadow Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain in which he asserts that Labour could form a coalition with backbench Liberal Democrat MPs if the next General Election does not hand Ed Miliband an overall majority.

Apparently, Mr. Hain wants to by-pass the Liberal Democrat leadership and work directly with those members of the party that he does approve of:

A fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Liverpool heard that unofficial channels had already been opened up between shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne and some Lib Dems.

Mr Hain said an outright victory for Labour at the next election would be very difficult to achieve but if, as he predicted, the Lib Dems were to splinter, with the right-wing of the party such as Jeremy Browne, Mr Clegg and Mr Laws splitting from the core of the party, a Lib-Lab coalition was a possibility.

"It seems to me that the Liberal Democrats are likely to splinter at the time of the next election between if you like the Orange Book leadership, Nick Clegg and others at the top, and what I think of as the majority of Liberal Democrats," Mr Hain said.

"If that happens, then I think there is a prospect for some kind of alliance, with if you like... the genuine Liberal Democrats, together with the Greens and together possibly with other forces.

Where exactly Mr. Hain got the idea that the Liberal Democrats would splinter just a week after a very successful and united conference in Birmingham is difficult to fathom. But his remarks highlight a more fundamental problem with Labour, their desire to do everything on their terms, including partneship.

It also shows that they do not understand how the Liberal Democrats work. We are not a loose coalition of individuals but a party held together by common values and a coherent philosophy.

It was this sort of arrogance that scuppered the talks between Labour and the Liberal Democrats in 2010 and it will do so again if Hain and his party persist with that attitude and their fantasy that they will be able to pick off Liberal Democrat MPs to form an unstable rainbow coalition.
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