Let’s be clear this is a Conservative lead government implementing predominately Tory policy bar a few half-hearted attempts at Lib Dem fig leaves, such as the referendum on AV. Recently there has been a lot of anti Lib Dem rhetoric thrown about by the Labour leadership candidates, especially by Ed Miliband who I support incidentally. This kind of rhetoric against the Lib Dems in government, in my opinion is short sighted, too tribal and ignores the true architects of the cuts regime: the Tories.
It will get a loud cheer from the Labour party faithful and applause from the gallery but anti liberal democrat rhetoric places the Labour party in permanent opposition if it continues on this path. As a party we have to be ready to talk and work with other parties on the left as most of the wider public now like coalitions and politicians working together. Of course as a party we should focus on winning a majority at the next general election but after such a heavy defeat in the spring and the way this has election panned out I believe that will be difficult to achieve in only one term. However we should be ready, unlike in May, for a coalition government, we should be looking to work with the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and others on the pluralistic left to make sure a Tory government is a thing of the past. With a progressive alliance we can place the Tory’s in opposition indefinitely.
As well as Labour swallowing its tribal instincts, this kind of politics is very much dependant on the electoral system. I would be in favour of a more proportional system possibly in the form of AV+ however this is not on the referendum ballot paper although I hear Caroline Lucas is mounting an amendment to add it on. Despite the A.V referendum being placed alongside the gerrymandering of constituencies in the same bill, the next leader, whoever it is, should campaign for a ‘yes’ vote. The alternative vote would make coalitions governments more likely and be a step in the right direction to making parliament more representative and go a way to gaining lost trust in the political system. In May as a Labour party we should show the public we are grown up politicians, ready to be an effective opposition but more importantly a credible government. That means as Martin Kettle states in his draft Labour leader speech in Friday’s Guardian, and I paraphrase ‘I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Nick Clegg on this issue’
Come May 2015 the electoral map will look very different, and a Lab-Lib coalition might be very much on the cards. The Labour party has to swallow its tribal instincts and be ready for coalition. Coalitions are here to stay; the country and the labour party can’t afford to be prevented from going into government because it can’t accept a pluralistic vision of politics. Labour needs to not retreat into the introverted tribalism that has marked some of the last five years of power. To avoid a prolonged spell in the wilderness, Labour must look to the wider public and move to a more pluralistic form of doing politics.
Sam Murphy @Murphys_Law19
Student and Labour party activist, South Staffordshire District council candidate in May.