Liberal Democrat electoral and policy pact with Labour, or not?

The party has been buzzing with pro and anti ‘pact’ debate, and some parliamentarians have been espousing contrasting views.

On 11th December the Guardian featured an article ‘Starmer Urged to Start Co-operating with the Lib Dems’ on the necessity of a pact for Labour. A Liberal Democrat branch of the ‘Compass Group’ has been formed.

Here I have a stab at synthesising the two Liberal Democrat arguments. The party as a whole needs to decide. Which view do you support?

View 1

The lurch to the right of the Conservative Party has changed the landscape for the Lib Dems. Since the Tories adopted the tool of encouraging anti-immigrant sentiment to undermine Labour in its heartlands, and since the rise of the SNP, it has become very difficult for Labour to achieve a parliamentary majority on its own. This is true however popular Keir Starmer becomes.

From international aid, to immigration, to complete legal separation from the EU, and to fiscal policy, what used to be regarded as far-right fringe UKIP policies are now mainstream Tory tenets. The rightwards nationalist path looks likely to accelerate post-EU-transition, with the support of the UK’s notoriously far-right media.

Thus ‘progressive forces’ must unite if a perpetual Tory government is to be avoided. For the Lib Dems this means an agreement with Labour, so as not to split the ‘progressive vote’ under the UK electoral system. The ‘equidistance’ policy must go. In constituencies where Labour is second to the Tories, but the combined Lab-Lib Dem vote is equivalent to a majority, then the Lib Dems should decline to field a candidate, and Labour vice versa. This could involve negotiating 50-90 seats each.

Whilst there are policy differences between Labour and the Lib Dems, including Brexit, there is sufficient common ground, and an agreement will hasten the retreat of the Corbynites. An unshackled Tory Party post-Brexit is such a terrible prospect, that such differences pale by comparison. Democracy itself could be at stake.

View 2

The Lib Dems do well in lots of constituencies where neither Labour’s past industrial base nor its current public services base, attracts voters; and where a potential Lib-Lab government may deter voting Lib Dem. What’s more, ‘on the ground’ there is age-old Labour activist animosity towards the Lib Dems. In many Lib Dem target constituencies Labour parties may defy any agreement and put up ‘Socialist Labour’ candidates for example. In policy the problem is more that many Labour parties are dominated by Momentum caucuses. Such a LibDem-Lab agreement would finally finish off the Lib Dems, well before a more formal alliance or even merger could emerge.

In practice the Lib Dems are a coalition of liberals and social democrats. An agreement with Labour would drive out the liberal wing, as well as alienate members who joined due to Brexit. Reconciling the policy differences in the party is easier that reconciling Lib Dem policies with Labour.

Next year is a political opportunity for the Lib Dems as the economy falters under the weight of Covid-19 and Brexit. However this is true only if the party has a well-developed way out of the coming economic and constitutional crises that loom. It is possible we won’t formulate a liberal-democratic way out of the mess, but if we have an agreement with Labour there is no chance at all of this. Sorely-needed reform of Lib Dem organisation will likely be sidestepped.

With a LibDem-Lab deal we may end up with 50 seats. In 2001, 2005 and 2010 we achieved more than that, without the negative perceptions of having achieved that via a ‘stitch up’ with another party on which we will be seen as dependent for our parliamentary position.

What do you think?

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance. He is a member of the Lib Dem Federal International Relations Committee and an Executive member of Liberal International (British Group).

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57 Comments

  • Michael Sammon 14th Dec '20 - 4:23pm

    No pacts.

  • Don’t really feel qualified to contribute, but for what it’s worth… I have left the Labour Party, and after much thought joined the Liberal Democrats. I would however very much regard myself as a social democrat, a Liberal much less so. From my political point of view a pact with Labour would make perfect sense, the majority of the PLP being broadly social democrat (the membership less so, which is what finally drove me out of Labour). That’s just my opinion, I’m sure many disagree!

  • Steve Trevethan 14th Dec '20 - 4:57pm

    Thank you for an interesting and important article.

    As it seems that the responses of H. M. G. to really demanding emergencies, such as World War II and the Covid plague, increase the use of social measures, might it be worth our having a discussion on socialism?

    Ditto the Labour Party?

  • Paul Barker 14th Dec '20 - 5:41pm

    I am sorry to dismiss this article out of hand but its nonsense.
    Option One is simply not available unless Labour suggest it. They are the larger Party by a long way, currently 5 times as many Members & Voters & 25 times as many MPs. If they suggest a Pact then we should respond positively but I see no sign that they might. Put the whole idea out of your heads, its a daydream.
    What is possible is an unspoken ( & publicly denied) policy of not stepping on each others toes, not Targeting each others Target Seats & toning down our mutual criticism where we we arent actually that far apart.
    As I understand it, that is what Compass are getting at.

    Now, if we were talking about an actual Pact or Alliance with The Greens (outside Scotland) that is much more do-able. A good example would be the London Mayoral Elections after the next one. A joint Libdem/Green campaign could drive The Tories into third place, lets think about that after May.

  • Paul Reynolds 14th Dec '20 - 6:41pm

    As I write I am in the middle of a Compass webinar, 600 mostly Labour people where the name of the game appears to be persuading the SNP, Greens, Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru to form an alliance. The issues are essentially those in the two ‘views’ above but from a Labour perspective. All parties face the same issues in moving to a ‘progressive alliance’, they say, and there is much discussion of PR with questions like ‘can we get Labour over the line’ on PR. The claim is made that 100 labour MPs who support PR.

  • Paul Reynolds 14th Dec '20 - 6:43pm

    Layla was speaking for the Lib Dems, supporting a need for a ‘progressive alliance’.

  • @ Paul Barker What do you have against the Scottish Green Party ?

  • Peter Martin 14th Dec '20 - 7:57pm

    We know that nearly all Labour Supporters will vote Lib Dem if Labour stands down. But what will Lib Dem supporters do if there is no Lib Dem to vote for?

    Unless it can be shown they won’t split 50-50 (for Lab and Tories), or just stay at home, the idea of a pact is a non-starter.

  • Donald Cameron 14th Dec '20 - 9:00pm

    I strongly support View 1 and find View 2 as timid. We have not had a Liberal Government since 1922 when Labour shared the Left Wing vote with us. Since then FPTP has been the Nemesis for the Split Left Wing against the United Right Wing [Conservative Party], for this reason we need a United Left at an election to defeat the Tories and abolish FPTP as the First Priority. Afterwards separate Left Parties can go their different ways, as they wish, or cooperate if they have identical policies.
    The next General Election may be a best and last chance to stop FPTP and avoid Britain becoming a Tory Dictatorship, Starmer their Leader is favourable and many among Labour, Lib Dems and SNP want Proportional Representation and a balanced, fair minded type of parliamentary government for the future.
    If necessary, some people have to now to grit their teeth and do the right thing. Abolish FPTP.

  • Nigel Jones 14th Dec '20 - 9:03pm

    The Compass webinar was dominated by discussion over PR, because a key issue is that many progressives will not work with Labour unless they have a clearly spoken majority in favour of that. The general public are unlikely to want to hear much about that and as always are more interested in the economy, health, welfare and taxes. As Layla made clear it is not about mergers or pacts, but cooperation. This starts with dialogue on a number of key areas such as those I have mentioned; I must add localism and internationalism. Local resources and democracy have been hugely cut in the last ten years and even some soft Tories will support big changes in that. Internationalism appeals strongly to certain people in all parties and, among the general population, the young. Active dialogue, starting with a focus on local elections, is essential among all progressives if we are to stand any chance of reversing the current right wing trend; no Lib-Dem can surely oppose that, unless they have forgotten the huge damage done to our image and betrayal of some of our beliefs, by the Coalition.

  • Donald Cameron. I’m afraid we have not had a Liberal Government since May 1915. The 1922 Lloyd George coalition was dominated by the Tories.

  • Donald Cameron 14th Dec '20 - 10:40pm

    @David Raw. I did not want to bore readers with history but if you insist. Liberals went into war 1914 with the Herbert Asquith Govt. He resigned 1915 and his successor Lloyd George, went into a War Time Coalition. He lost Liberal votes and influence in 1922 and SINCE 1922 the Liberals have had NO power or influence except a little in WW II Coalition [ Sir A. Sinclair as Minister for Air ].
    BTW Scottish Greens are a shifty lot who want Independence And support the SNP fanatics.

  • No! Definitely not. Keir Starmer’s economic pledges are Corbynism and endorsed by the far left rail, fire brigade and mail unions.

    We are a free market pro-globalisation, pro-privatisation, pro-foreign ownership and pro-outsourcing party. We cannot share the same space as far left unions. Ed Davey’s values are what the country needs, not Bob Crow’s!

    If Labour was lead by a free marketer, there may be a case for this. But Starmer is a shy Corbynite in a suit.

    Equally Labour have been just as bad as the Tories when it comes to Brexit. The far left unions are Brexiteers. Gordon Brown undermined the Euro and cemented the narrative that it is a bad thing – which now permeates even many Remain voters. Labour’s attitude to free movement has been mixed at best. Much of the party does not support offshoring jobs and free markets.

    I utterly utterly oppose any deals with this far left Labour party. However if they are to be done – we must put down heavy red lines which means that nationalisation and protectionism will not be tolerated.

  • Robin Grayson 15th Dec '20 - 8:20am

    Good morning. A cautionary tale is the fate of the Cooperative Party. In order to join the Cooperative Party you have to first be, and remain, a member of the Labour Party.

  • Alex Macfie 15th Dec '20 - 8:23am

    Without wishing to endorse Stimpson’s worldview (the last attempt to turn the Lib Dems into a British FDP didn’t work out so well) the reality is that many potential Lib Dem voters in our Tory-facing target seats won’t consider voting Labour, for reasons given in the OP’s View 2. And what isn’t explicitly mentioned there is that any pact with Labour would put potential Lib Dem voters off us in seats where we do stand. No matter how moderate of centrist the Labour leadership actually is (and Stimpson is wrong on this matter, Keir Starmer is no Corbynite), many Labour activists are some variety of Old Labour, and this is what the voters see locally.
    We were often asked why we stood against Labour in Canterbury at the last GE. One reason was that we mainly took votes there that would otherwise have gone to the Tories, and so helped Labour to win. But another reason was so that we could win back Richmond Park.

  • John Marriott 15th Dec '20 - 8:48am

    It’s pretty obvious that the only way you will stop the Tories being part of any future government is for at least two of the opposition parties to do some sort of deal in certain but not all parliamentary constituencies. However, the best of luck trying to convince Labour that it can’t win on its own. In addition, the way the opposition parties behaved at Westminster for most of 2019 doesn’t augur well for a change in attitude.

    The real dilemma for the Lib Dems in particular is that getting into bed with the other ‘main party’ will, unless the voting system is changed, end up with that stone rolling even further down that hill. So, if Starmer does come calling, Ed Davie should make it quite clear that, unless he is prepared to guarantee electoral reform if they win, Sir Keir is wasting his time.

  • Helen Dudden 15th Dec '20 - 10:59am

    I was once a member of the Labour Party, until antisemitic comments were made to me.
    If I joined the Libdems again, I would like to see change in the way such problems are handled. If it’s cronyism or antisemitism it’s still not to be tolerated.
    How would others react if this became a problem?

  • Peter Martin 15th Dec '20 - 11:07am

    @ Stimpson,

    “Gordon Brown undermined the Euro and cemented the narrative that it is a bad thing…”

    That’s because it undoubtedly is. It’s a Trojan horse to bring about the creation of a United States of Europe. He didn’t do it on his own and help wasn’t just from “the far left”. MIlton Friedman explained the downsides of the euro as well as anyone, and as long ago as 1997.

    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-euro–monetary-unity-to-political-disunity?barrier=accesspaylog

  • I think, and I’m a rank amateur at this so happy to be corrected by those who’ve spent years knocking on doors etc., the major thing that we have to recognise is that to beat Tories, we have to appeal to their voters. We can’t just be like Labour, and we can’t be too close to them. If people wanted Labour then they’d just vote for it, but they don’t.

    We can help to enable a Labour government, but, perversely, that means opposing them, not backing them. We need to appeal to Tory voters in Tory areas in order to reduce their number of votes and seats. This fact, I think, is quite distasteful to a lot of members.

    The article recognises that the Tory party has lurched to the right. This isn’t likely to be popular with a lot of their voters, but where can they go? They might go to Labour, but they still worry about the outcomes, so they reluctantly stick with a Tory party that they don’t agree with. There is a huge vacancy for a pro-business, pro-Europe, pro-stability party that tries to look after people without confiscating their hard-earned property, and that will cultivate relationships with other countries around the world, rather than creating hostile environments and sending the Navy to board fishing vessels.

    If we step gently to the right, but remain firmly in the centre, we can attract Tory votes and eat into their majority. That can enable a Labour government, which we can support.

    If we have an open pact with Labour, we won’t take those Tory votes, might take Labour votes, and will probably end up getting double-crossed by them anyway.

  • Peter Martin 15th Dec '20 - 11:20am

    I’ve just noticed a paywall problem with the link in my last comment.

    This is the same article in pdf form.

    Incidentally, I don’t normally quote Milton Friedman but he’s been proved quite right about the euro.

    https://miltonfriedman.hoover.org/friedman_images/Collections/2016c21/1997novtimesWhyEurope.pdf

  • Peter Martin 15th Dec '20 - 11:39am

    A Labour/ Prog Alliance Govt is out of the hands of both Labour and the Lib Dems right now. Neither party has the numbers to compete. Lib Dem voters will often vote Tory as a second choice. It may even make sense for Labour to encourage Lib Dems to stand rather than stand down in favour of some supposedly “Progressive Alliance”.

    The best hope (the only hope?) for a Labour Government is for a revival of the UKIP/Brexit/Reform Party, or whatever Nigel Farage wants to call it, to split the Tory vote. This will only happen if BJ signs an agreement with the EU which the Tory Right will label a “sell out”. Any agreement will probably do.

    So a “no deal” will be even worse news that many are predicting from an electoral viewpoint. If a “no deal” leads to an economic war between the UK and the EU then so much the better for Tory electoral prospects. There is nothing like an external threat to rally the voters to the Govt’s side.

  • Ianto Stevens 15th Dec '20 - 12:16pm

    A pact in some seats, provided the relevant local parties backed it, YES

    Making ANY sort of coalition with ANY party, ever again, NO

    Having an agreement to keep a minority government in power for a limited time to implement agreed measures, YES

    Merger with the greens, BRING IT ON!

    Since becoming a party member after the referendum, I have found that too many LibDem are so driven by wanting to win that the specific policies to be implemented become secondary. Winning is great, but only if you have implementable policies that will benefit people.

    A party that is a series of local cliques is not worth voting for. A national movement to turn good ideas into public policy deserves to win.

  • The usual comments from the usual peopple.(BTW, Stimpson, are you still in favour of a privatised police force, armed forces, etc.?)..

    A pact, over who stands where, is not a sell-out. As has been mentioned. many LibDems will vote Tory if no LD stands so, in such seats, this party loses nothing… Labour voters will either vote LD or abstain where no Labour candidate stands so this party can only gain votes/seats…

    Without SNP votes, if Scotland goes, what remains of the UK will be Tory forever unless opposition parties work together…Some of you may be proud to be an opposition party (if that’s what a mini-bus group, with spare seats, can be called) but I’d far rather get a Charles Kennedy number ( 62 seats and 22.1% of the vote) and work up from there!

    BTW that’s in line with ‘my usual comments’

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Dec '20 - 12:34pm

    Very good from Paul in the piece, and some comments are sensible.

    What is missing is that we as a party have many who reject, left, right, and some who even reject the centre!

    Those of us who won’t accept the word left unless preceded by the word centre, do not like this talk as alliance of the Left!

    I am on the centre left on some issues. I am in the centre ground, yes there, and it does exist, on much. I am even on the centre right, as described by some, on issues like choice in services, late abortion, violent crime, if by these you mean conscience first, individual expression important , and leftists only rarely, like that view today.

    We who were in the Labour party years ago, know, that party is too broad.

    There is room for only two other views.

    We embrace the US, way, and create a Democrats type grouping.

    We embrace multi party Europe and avoid pacts but have coalitions.

    Yet both require the Labour party to alter.

    Starmer is not popular with a lot of his lot.

    The party is not liked by most we might like to persuade.

    The article needs to realise it is not black and white or two choices…

  • Matt (Bristol) 15th Dec '20 - 12:39pm

    At the ideological level, I’m personally interested in a less closed-mindset Lib Dem party that can build a (very) broadly-based social-liberal and highly democratic consensus, ideally with Labour in the current context … as much I distrust the authoritarians on Labour’s left and right. If a genuine one-nation, John-Major-style constitutionalist / Christian Democrat bloc existed that would be a secondary choice for me (and I don’t mean David Cameron-style with its neoliberal dabbling).

    I don’t think you need a formal pact for that, but you need a party-wide consensus and trust in that strategy and no reneging on it in the hope that a new Cameron will emerge, for eg, and you can horsetrade your way to an advantageous position.

    From the voter base upwards, I think you should all do a lot more detailed research on what appeals to voters in different constituencies. I see a lot of ‘Labour voters think like this’ and ‘Tory voters think like that’ some of which is true, but some of which is possibly baloney. The assumptions for eg, that past Tory voters won’t vote for a bigger state, and that past Labour voters won’t vote for service cuts, are I think, based on confusing manifestoes with motivations.

    I think several subgroups of Labour voters are amenable to messaging that you can cut ‘unnecessary’ spending to focus on ideologically important spending (this is one of the Cummings insights) and many Tory voters would like to see local authorities with considerable powers to direct subsidy money to local projects, as long as local vested-interest-groups have significant power in how that ‘bigger state’ is managed.

    The creeping belief in the party that if you wan Labour voters you have to be Labour-lite, and if you want Tory voters you have to be Tory-lite, is worrying and will lead to constituencies who have promised their electorate different things (again … didn’t you do this before?).

    That said, I continue to believe that if you focus on a narrow, middle-class, somewhat academic / snobbish ‘core vote’ around purely ‘liberal’ (in the modern sense) touchstones and don’t have a wider coherent economic narrative, you’re saying goodbye to voters old and new and you’re also cutting against your perennial localist message.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Dec '20 - 12:54pm

    No electoral pacts with Labour.

  • I completely agree with Alison Willott.

    For me the most fundamental reason why I oppose an electoral pact with Labour is that I don’t see it working. Our voters wouldn’t necessarily split in favour of Labour, and there are plenty of Labour people who would vote Tory over us. The most seats we have gained in a single election in recent times was the 1997 election when we stood everywhere but didn’t really campaign much in key Labour/Tory marginals (either through choice or simply though not having the activists) and that was at a time when both us and Labour were significantly more popular and so it was a less controversial move.

  • Helen Dudden 15th Dec '20 - 3:32pm

    Peter Fisher. I agree, that the present government, is going to get into some very deep water.
    Lack of medical care, many losing their businesses and homes. A total preoccupation with Sage, and dodgy graphs.
    We need clarity and transparency in spending, building trust back into accountability.
    Would you buy a used car from Hancock, Johnson or Gove?

  • Peter Hirst 15th Dec '20 - 4:07pm

    The elephant in the room is actually PR. Without it any cooperation with Labour will only help to preserve the two Party state we live in. The question is whether Labour is to be trusted. If it is then we should even allow for a reduction in our projected seats or percentage vote at the next General Election to allow it to be implemented. Without it we are in a hopeless situation at least centrally.

  • George Thomas 15th Dec '20 - 5:20pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but haven’t the government just changed constituency boundaries which has had the consequence of increasing number of MP’s from England and reducing number of MP’s in Wales etc. There are traditional Lib Dem voters in Wales who are now much further away from seeing any Lib Dem’s in the UK government unless progressive parties find some way to work together. How that happens I don’t have the answer, a non-aggression pact sounds okay, but the past decade has seen it made easier for Conservatives to get elected and their policies become nastier and nastier – something has to be done.

  • Paul Reynolds 15th Dec '20 - 8:13pm

    Defining ‘alliance’ if difficult enough. Anyone want a stab as defining ‘progressive’ ?

  • Paul Reynolds 15th Dec '20 - 8:15pm

    Defining ‘alliance’ is difficult enough. Anyone want a stab at defining ‘progressive’ ?

  • Donald Cameron 15th Dec '20 - 10:00pm

    Peter Hirst has made a good comment but some of the other comments have not got to the crux of the problem of the Liberal Democrats. The crux is, How do we get a significant voice for our policies in Parliament by winning more Seats.
    This is ONLY going to be solved by Proportional Representation, if this is never achieved the Party is stuck. There is a reason for this situation.
    Up till 1914 Liberals got into Government because there were only two Parties. By 1922 Labour had taken most of our Working Class vote and kept it.
    Tories are Upper Class, Labour is Working Class and Liberals are mostly Middle Class and an educated Middle Class at that. Probably this is a reason we get more votes near Universities, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St. Andrews etc. That is fine but there are not enough of us now to get a majority in Parliament using FPTP. With 25% of votes we get 25% of seats and influence. I for example have an Honours Degree and Fellowship of a Royal College but have never elected an MP in 65 years of voting.
    To me, logically, our target should be to negotiate some agreement whereby there is a majority in Parliament to abolish FPTP and achieve Proportional Representation. Admittedly that is the difficult bit. When NO party has an outright majority in Parliament then we may get the sensible negotiating, debating, compromising, fair dealing, not class ridden manner of Government that we have not had for 100 Years and join the effective governments in the world.

  • Starmer is a shy Corbynite. Read his pledges – particularly the economic ones (the social ones I have little issue with). It is still party policy to nationalise the railways and energy. The Labour membership is heavily far left on economic issuses – and will push Starmer into further left wing positions. Most of the Labour moderates have left the party, and even the “Labour right” are now fully paid up “nationalise it” types.

    The unions are far left, regardless of what their membership might be – and even then this same membership voters for these far left leaders in the unions. When do we ever hear unions praise privatisation, praise the outsourcing companies or praise offshoring of jobs? When do we ever hear the unions praise the free market, praise foreign ownership and praise capitalism? Never. This is immoral.

    Starmer is also becoming widely authoritarian in his views – spycops, policing and so on. Which is another reason we cannot work with such a man.

    Ed Davey is a moderate free market Liberal. There is no crossover between his sensible views on globalisation and the Trumpite Labour vote.

    As for privatised armed forces and the police – yes I support this – although I realise that it’s probably not mainstream yet – although the coalition did look rightly at bringing more private sector into these areas. It should be regulated – but I have more confidence in G4S and similar not to engage in nationalism, jingoism and to support the values of diversity, equality, best practice and customer service, than the current set up of nationalised crown servants with gold plated pensions pledging allegiance to a monarch.

  • Peter Martin 16th Dec '20 - 5:28am

    @ Paul Reynolds,

    “Anyone want a stab at defining ‘progressive’ ?”

    How about?

    To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible….

    Just joking!

    But, more seriously, the problem is that with a word with no fixed meaning can be made to mean anything you want it to. Does it have to include a progressive system of taxation for example? “Progressive” is an example of the superficial language that has infected modern politics. It raises as more questions than it answers. It is usually a term used by those who have a vaguely leftish/reformist political stance but are too centrist to apply the word socialist.

  • Nonconformistradical 16th Dec '20 - 7:36am

    @George Thomas
    “Correct me if I’m wrong but haven’t the government just changed constituency boundaries……..”
    No – they have not yet engineered the actual boundary changes. The last review *2018) was based on reducing the number of Westminster MPs to 600 from 650.

    This year’s legislation reverts to 650 MPs. Hence a completely new boundary review is needed.

    Which would not be necessary if we had a sensible electoral system with multi-member constituencies, with the number of MPs/constituency being changed according to the number of electors in the constituency – gosh we could get rid of a quango!

  • @ Donald Cameron. Have you worked when Asquith resigned as Prime Minister yet, Donald ?

  • Laurence Cox 16th Dec '20 - 12:11pm

    @Donald Cameron

    I suggest you look at Mark Pack’s posting from yesterday:

    https://www.markpack.org.uk/166467/how-the-values-of-voters-and-of-liberal-democrat-voters-compare/

    One very evident feature is that the industrial working class social and economic attitudes are now a long way from the attitudes of Labour voters. This helps us to understand why Labour have lost the “Red Wall” and why they are going to find it difficult to win it back again. Indeed, the attitudes of Labour and Lib Dem voters are close enough together that we could reasonably expect a fair degree of tactical voting from them if not discouraged by the parties; a 1997-type scenario with Starmer and Davey in the places of Blair and Ashdown is entirely possible with good will.

    This is not a new development; this blog posting from 2016 includes data from a study carried out in 2005:

    https://www.flourish.org/2016/07/on-finding-political-axes-using-maths/

    It is very obvious that even then there was a pretty large overlap between the social and economic views of Lib Dem and Labour voters.

  • We do not share economic values with Labour. We are a party of free markets, privatisation, outsourcing and globalisation.

    Labour are a party of socialists who want nationalisation, protectionism, militant trade unionism and who are opposed to privatisation, free markets and foreign ownership.

    Starmer has supported strikes over offshoring jobs and supported RMT strikes over destaffing trains. These are far left positions – offshoring jobs is a good thing and technology is safer than staff on the rail network.

  • neil sandison 16th Dec '20 - 2:01pm

    I would like to see some realism enter this debate .The Conservatives have a 80 seat majority . Labour will not overcome this on their own and perhaps even with Liberal Democrat and Green support a conservative government could still limp back in with a minority government . A campaign for PR , holding the conservatives to account on the climate emergency social justice via a new Beverage report and meeting the challenge ever growing housing crisis would be common ground for cross party cooperation . Labours economic position is likely to change as we get closer to the reality of an election , Liberal Democrats are already looking at new economic models better suited to delivering a sustainable economy . Voters unlike politicians and not locked into die hard positions ,Put forward viable arguments that gain traction in other parties and you will build leverage and increase our number and influence in parliament but do not over egg our strength either on poll popularity or the promises of others self illusion damaged both in the coalition and last years Brexit general election.

  • Steve Trevethan 16th Dec '20 - 4:38pm

    As this will be the first Christmas that UNICEF has launched an emergency response in the UK to feed starving children, might we expand our discussion to find ways in which future governments no longer need international support to feed our people?

  • Paul Barker 16th Dec '20 - 5:41pm

    Can I suggest that everyone reading this goes & reads the articles by Our President on what works in Cross-Party co-operation & what doesnt & on how Our Voters Values compare to Voters in general.
    Lets not rush to judgement on the likely result of a General Election nearly 4 Years away or on how Starmer leads his Party, its very early days for both.
    Its not early days on building the groundwork for Cross-Party co-operation, we can begin on that right now by showing Labour & The Greens (outside Scotland) some respect, lets disagree politely.

  • Helen Dudden 17th Dec '20 - 7:57am

    Steve Trevethan. This is something that the government should be ashamed of, starving children. It will not only harm them mentally, but physically as well.
    There seems little interest, in anything outside of Covid. Preparation for the exit from the EU, our health, employment figures, nothing.
    Yesterday, I felt so angry, as I received a text, vaccines in the area. Nothing, about the year long wait for dental treatment. I think, I would be very careful what I take now.
    We don’t all react to a medication in the same way, from personal experience.

  • James Fowler 17th Dec '20 - 1:54pm

    Excellent points from Alison Willott.

    The Conservative right wing populist tilt is good news. Rowdy patriots have never been a LD core constituency, and it opens up a lot more space for us as plausible classic liberal moderates than it does for Labour who carry more extremist baggage. We need the disillusioned Chris Pattens, Michael Heseltines and the John Majors to declare for us so we can hold on to what we’ve got. Moderation is also a highly effective way to indirectly help Labour by depriving the Conservatives of otherwise true blue seats Labour can never hope to win.

    As things stand I don’t see the need for any pacts or agreements except maybe at a very local level in individual cases with Greens and possibly Plaid. Talk about 50 MPs is absolute nonsense as things stand. We’re still in survival mode as we have been since 2015. Holding on to what we have will be a big enough challenge.

  • @ Paul Barker “we can begin on that right now by showing Labour & The Greens (outside Scotland) some respect, lets disagree politely.”

    What’s the problem with the Greens in Scotland, Paul ?

  • Tristan Ward 17th Dec '20 - 6:09pm

    No Deal with Labour unless there is a believable commitment to entrenched Constitutuonal Reform (and in particular PR) and possibly not even then. Ashdown was let down by Blair, and Clegg shafted by the Tories. We have nothing to show for our cooperation.

    Next time, if we are lucky enough to get the chance we must do better.

  • Nothing wrong in swapping policy ideas. Pacts are not really required as our target seats are not Labour hopefuls so only an unwritten understanding is useful.

  • Alex Macfie 18th Dec '20 - 8:05am

    Calling people “Corbynite” just because they’re somewhat to the left of your own personal politics is not helpful, as it weakens the label when applied to the real deal. People were doing that when discussing Ed’s leadership rival a few months ago. It was wrong then, and it’s equally wrong now when applied to Keir Starmer. Anyone who doesn’t share Corbyn’s knee-jerk anti-westernism, sympathy for left-wing dictatorships, tolerance of antisemitism or Marxist-Leninist approach to politics isn’t a Corbynite, simple as that.

  • Antony Watts 22nd Dec '20 - 9:46am

    be pragmatic, not overall. Where policies agree support them, time by time.

  • Peter Chambers 22nd Dec '20 - 12:31pm

    Some sort of opposition alliance seems necessary. The moves by the English Nationalist Tory party to restrict democracy and rule by fiat require a coordinated response. A similar argument can be made on the grounds of Climate Change – Johnson will do little more than green-wash. However that can be transactional and in tandem with building up our own activist base and local government presence. No one will listen to us if we persist in being weak but well meaning.

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