Compassion and compromise – to get things done Labour has to work with the Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party are two parties that historically have had many things in common. The birth of the Liberal Democrats stems from a splinter section of the Labour Party joining with the Liberals. Therefore, whilst the two parties are further apart than they ever have been in their histories they both share a common history of social justice and a willingness to oppose the Conservatives.

Given that we are once again in a Hung Parliament it is more important than ever for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to work together to ensure that Britain gets the best possible deal out of Brexit and that positive legislation is passed to ensure that Britain can continue putting forward radical, innovative and game changing legislation despite having a Conservative government. This may certainly be a difficult task – whilst the Conservative’s majority is practically none existent even with the help of the DUP they still have a majority – but it is not an impossible task. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats alongside the SNP can work together Brexit can still be held accountable.

Similarly, though the most extreme elements of the Conservative’s manifesto won’t be implemented it is not impossible that they will not try to pass legislation which is ultimately detrimental to the people of Britain. Attempts at the restriction of privacy or the failure to check where British weapons are being sold are not something that either Labour or the Liberal Democrats wants to see or can allow to happen. Therefore, neither party can stand idly by in the Houses of Parliament and let the Conservatives turn Britain into a free for all, allowing any unscrupulous private investor to buy up companies, property or landmarks of British culture without proper investigation and examination of their motives. It is vital that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats come together and force these issues to the forefront of debate in the House of Commons. 

Similarly, Labour and the Liberal Democrats need to use their large base of activists and members to work together on projects that are either helping to preserve something threatened by the Conservatives or to put forward an agenda in local areas that makes sure the Conservatives are unable to close down local A&Es, local libraries and local schools. Divided both parties can only do so much but together both Labour and the Liberal Democrats can achieve a great deal whilst remaining independent. This combined outlook should not be seen as an attempt to merge or refuse to debate; it should be seen as a necessary means of ensuring that a government with so little power cannot inflict great harm on our country – that they are held accountable on important issues by a united opposition.

Although there is natural sense of rivalry and dislike between them, it must be put aside on certain, vital issues that are in the national interest. Only together can we ensure a fair, productive and proud Britain for all.

* Will Barber Taylor is a member of the Labour Party and have written for several online publications including Labour Vision.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • All very laudable but I have little expectation of much in the way of meaningful collaboration. I’ve noticed a tendency for Lib Dems to line up with the Labour ‘right’ against Corbyn, which I find disappointing. Corbyn is a solid social liberal, whereas his opponents within Labour tend to be those who supported the Blair and Brown governments in their attacks on civil liberties. Seems to me that Lib Dems are prioritising relative economic liberalism.

    Sadly, Corbyn and his allies have little to no interest in working with Lib Dems, often viewing them hysterically as quislings and traitors. The more moderate Labour MPs seem to have softened a little but it still looks pretty grim.

  • Both labour and the conservatives have always wanted to destroy our party. Both succeeded to some extent in 2015. We should be asking them to work with us, not the other way round.

  • James Moore 21st Sep '17 - 1:53pm

    Although I think Labour are on the wrong course on their approach to Brexit, it is refreshing to see a Labour Party member write on this site with an olive branch which should be welcomed in the spirit it is meant.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Sep '17 - 2:10pm


    I was a longstanding Labour member from youth to young manhood. From later thirties, having not been a member a while, I joined this party impressed with the leadership of Kennedy and Campbell over Iraq.

    Your article is music to my ears.

    But the link goes further back. I often allude to sharing my birthday with the very wonderful Liberal leader and Prime Minister of the winning Liberal party and excellent early government of 1906, Sir Henry Campbell -Bannerman. He was a help to Labour and allowed the Liberals to stand down in select seats for Labour candidates. Though not a very left wing man, his humane and progressive nature recognised the common ground shared .

    There are few of his ilk today and fewer in Labour than by, my calculation, needed to make such things happen.

    This party could have been in alliance with Labour many years ago, but the Blair landslide was the problem, not the Blair government at first.

    When New Labour lost its way , becoming authoritarian and moving right , it was not right but right wing , to many, and this party, naturally in the radical centre , fell out of love with any notion of unity.

    A shame indeed and now a leadership in Labour too the left of this party on much, and convinced we are traitors .

    The coalition would be better understood if there was less hate in politics and less personal antagonism.

  • Floating voter 21st Sep '17 - 4:10pm

    Will omits to state that his Party is led by two men who are best friends with Sinn Fein. How can Liberal Democrats ever work with the current Labour leadership?

  • paul barker 21st Sep '17 - 5:46pm

    I am another Libdem who welcomes this approach. Has Will tried to get this piece published on Labour List (The Labour equivalent to LDV) ? I would be interested to see their response.

  • Peter Scott Brooks 21st Sep '17 - 7:04pm

    Until Labour realise the coalition of chaos they’ve entered into with the Conservatives over Brexit and decide to save the country instead I’m afraid this article is so much wishful thinking. Labour have to commit to oppose Brexit at every turn, introduce to their manifesto the kind of electoral reforms that would stop the system distorting the votes cast (and stick to them, we still remember their betrayal over the Jenkins report), and commit to holding the liberty of the individual above the power of the state. Maybe then we can talk.

  • Liberal Maverick 21st Sep '17 - 7:07pm

    The best way Labour and the Lib Dems could work together is via an electoral arrangement with the objective of securing a hung parliament followed by voting reform.

    Of course they (Labour) aren’t interested because they mistakenly believe they can win a General Election outright.

  • @Floating Voter. This may rile you but the Sinn Fein connection? I genuinely don’t care. Corbyn’s good on civil liberties and human rights. His desire to back the underdog puts him on the wrong side sometimes, no doubt, but he’s mostly fine. Let’s talk.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Sep '17 - 12:33pm

    OK but the title could well be “The Lib Dems have to work with Labour”.

    But, if you listen to your erstwhile leader Nick Clegg on how austerity isn’t really such a bad thing, it doesn’t matter who you work with. You aren’t going to get anything done at all!

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Sep '17 - 1:33pm

    Unfortunately Labour’s idea of working together is to support them unthinkingly. They view us as Labour mark 2 and simply don’t understand that we may have differing views and objectives than the Labour Party. Until that changes, there is no chance of working together generally though cooperation in single issues may be possible.
    Labour’s hatred of Lib Dems is nothing new. As a young councillor in my first term as a councillor, I attended just such a single issue campaign group. I got into discussion with a Methodist Minister, also a Labour Councillor, over lunch. He was finding it really hard to cope with working together with Liberals. So I asked him what his attitude would be if Liberals on his council moved something wholly in line with Labour policy. His response says it all. ‘If the Liberals move it, I will vote against it’.

  • Martin Walker 24th Sep '17 - 12:05am

    Why do you assume that at a local level the only political party making bad decisions are the Tories? Have you been to many local authorities in the north of England?

  • Simon Banks 29th Sep '17 - 5:13pm

    I welcome statements like this from within Labour. There is indeed a common heritage – nonconformity, a trade union base, internationalism – and before the First World War and disastrous split in the Liberals, it was not uncommon for candidates to stand as Labour-Liberal or similar.

    For many Liberals like me, the fundamental barriers to co-operation with Labour (and why we would never for a moment consider joining Labour) are more about the organisational and psychological culture of the party than about policy. That should not for a moment stop co-operation on issues of common concern (the wrecking of the renewable energy industry, say) and local discussions about issues or political theory. The major barriers to this for Liberal Democrats are Labour’s ambiguous position on Brexit (and its leader’s apparent celebration of a hard Brexit) and the hostility which Labour HQ and leadership have shown to any electoral co-operation, not just with us, but with Greens or left-leaning independents. It seems to me that hostility is not just political calculation, but goes back to that organisational culture, which is very starkly Us and Them. Nonetheless, I know well there are many Labour activists whose views and approach to politics are such that we really ought to get on with them.

  • The reason it won’t work is plain by reading the majority of the posts above…From “Labour supports the erosion of civil liberties” through “Jeremy Corbyn…wants to destroy us” to the old faithful “best friends with Sinn Fein”…

    Why would Labour even consider dealing with a party where the majority view is that expressed in those posts..

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