Labour makes first move for coalition deal with Lib Dems

Labour eyes 'progressive consensus' with the Liberal Democrats with new cross-party Labour for Democracy group

A new cross-party group will be set up by senior Labour figures tomorrow in an attempt to heal the party’s rift with the Liberal Democrats and open the door to Lib-Lab co-operation in another hung parliament.

Labour for Democracy will try to build bridges with other progressive parties, including the Greens. But it will reach out to Nick Clegg’s party, with whom relations were stretched to breaking point when he took the Lib Dems into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.

Although the launch was planned before last week’s Leveson report on press regulation, it is timely because Ed Miliband and Mr Clegg have backed the inquiry’s call for a new system to be underpinned by law, a move opposed by David Cameron.

Officially, Labour describes the Lib Dems as the Tories’ “accomplices” but there is a growing recognition in the party that bridges need to be built in case the 2015 election delivers another stalemate.

Significantly, one of the driving forces behind the new group is John Denham, the former cabinet minister, who is now parliamentary private secretary to Mr Miliband. Mr Denham said: “While Labour values are most strongly supported by Labour voters, many supporters of other parties also share some of our values.

“No party today speaks exclusively for progressive opinion; none will do so in the future.”

Paul Blomfield, chairman of the group and Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said that achieving Mr Miliband’s One Nation Britain agenda would mean building a “progressive consensus” like the one the 1945 Labour government achieved on the welfare state.

Despite voters’ disillusion with the current Coalition, he said, they still yearn for politicians to work together and be less tribal – and were increasingly attracted to smaller parties rather than Labour and the Tories.

Mr Blomfield said: “It’s not about coalitions, but about approaching politics differently. As Labour members, we will work hard for outright victory in 2015, but even with it the change that Britain needs will require the support of all who share our values.”

Many Lib Dems would prefer to reach a pact or enter coalition with Labour if the next election results in a hung parliament. They fear that they would be seen as “crypto Tories” if they kept the Tories in power for a second time.

Some Lib Dems, led by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, remain closer to Labour than the Conservatives.

But there is a potential stumbling block to a deal with Labour – its demand for the Lib Dems to replace Mr Clegg as leader. One Lib Dem source said: “We would not allow another party to dictate who our leader is.”

Labour is divided over whether to offer the Lib Dems an olive branch.

Some Labour figures believe it would send a signal that the party cannot win an overall majority, while others insist Labour should be less “tribal”.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Foundation Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Early Years and Founda...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?