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.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice