Labour urges councillors to form coalitions with Lib Dems

Ed Miliband has urged Labour councillors to forge coalitions with the Liberal Democrats to run local authorities despite his party's hostility to Nick Clegg for joining forces with David Cameron.

A Labour circular leaked to The Independent tells the party's councillors: "If Liberal Democrat groups/ councillors, who are committed to standing up to the unfair policies imposed by the Government, wish to join Labour in running the council then we should look to form locally progressive coalitions."

The move will be seen as Mr Miliband's latest attempt to build links with the Liberal Democrats which could pave the way for a Lib-Lab coalition after the next general election. Although some Labour figures believe the party may struggle to win a majority under its own steam, Mr Miliband insists his strategy is to go all out for a Labour victory.

This month's local elections in England, in which the Liberal Democrats lost 700 seats and Labour gained 800, left many councils without an overall majority. There are signs that, despite the tensions between the national leaders, Labour and Liberal Democrats are joining forces in town halls. They have formed a joint administration in Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, and are in talks in Bath and North East Somerset.

In Wirral, Merseyside, Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Niblock has defected to Labour, boosting its number of councillors to 30 to the Tories' 27. Labour has offered the nine remaining Liberal Democrats a coalition deal. Until the elections they ran the council jointly with the Tories.

Councillor Niblock, who urged other Liberal Democrats to jump ship, said he was unhappy when his former party went into coalition with the Tories nationally and decided to "give it a year". His fears had now been realised and he felt that "enough was enough".

One Labour official said: "There are places where the Liberal Democrats believe their party made a terrible mistake by going into coalition with the Conservatives. After the local elections, others realise their party is in bed with natural born killers; they know how this movie is going to end. If they share Labour's principles, particularly on spending cuts, Labour will consider working with them locally."

The circular sent out by Labour headquarters says councillors can also join forces with the Green Party but local coalitions with the Conservatives and the British National Party are banned. They tell Labour council groups that all power-sharing deals must be approved by the party's ruling national executive committee.

Some shadow ministers and Labour backbenchers have expressed concern that Mr Miliband is "obsessed" with wooing the Liberal Democrats and needs to do more to target Conservative supporters. One said: "The Lib Dems are coming over to us in droves of their own volition. That is welcome, and we need them, but we need to put more emphasis on broadening our appeal to Tory voters, particularly in the south." In private meetings with his Shadow Cabinet and MPs, the Labour leader has dismissed the criticism, saying it is based on a "false choice".

One close ally said: "It is nonsense to suggest you are either after Liberal Democrat or Conservative supporters. The truth is that we want both groups; we cannot win an election with just one of them." Liberal Democrat sources said the party leadership is relaxed about local deals with Labour where councillors agree.

They hope such arrangements will help their party's drive to reassert its separate identity from the Tories, following personal attacks on Mr Clegg by the Conservative-led No campaign in the AV referendum.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week