Should Labour and the Lib Dems go into an electoral pact?

Number 10: What strategy will put Jeremy Corbyn in the prime minister’s house?

Simon Wren-Lewis on his Mainly Macro blog raises an interesting question: with the Brexit Party making overtures to the Tories about an electoral pact, should Labour and the Liberal Democrats do the same?

He makes some good points in favour of it – there are many seats where it would make sense for either party to stand aside, allowing the other a greater opportunity for victory, and it makes no sense for the Liberal Democrats to try to block Labour, only to let the “no deal Brexit” parties have a majority in the House of Commons. Every Liberal Democrat attacking Labour is supporting a Johnson/Cummings administration.

But if the Liberal Democrats have any kind of reputation at the moment, it is for treachery. They cannot be trusted. That position will only have been strengthened – against Labour – with the defections to that party of former Labour and Conservative MPs. That will push Labour away.

And the Liberal Democrats themselves may fear that Tory propaganda painting Jeremy Corbyn as the Devil himself will put marginal Tory voters off switching to them, if they go into a pact with Labour.

So Professor Wren-Lewis is supporting tactical voting – supporting the LDs where they have a more realistic chance of winning, and Labour where that party would fare better.

But his logic isn’t perfect. He says voting for a Labour MP who supports leaving the EU will not help as such a person would not support a second referendum with remaining in the EU on the paper – but this fails to take into account the fact that such a referendum is Labour policy and it is better to have a government with such a policy, if you are a remainer, than a government former by a Johnson/Cummings/Farage “no deal Brexit” alliance.

He also says the Tories can expect around 350 seats according to current polling, but he is out of date. Current polling, it seems, suggests the Tories could only muster around 285 seats unless they win constituencies that would be far from their grip usually.

He also suggests that Labour cannot hope to enjoy the huge surge it had in 2017 because Dominic Cummings will use all the social media expertise he learned during the EU referendum campaign to undermine it. This ignores the fact that the media will have to ditch their anti-Labour bias by law, that hundreds of thousands of young people are signing up to vote just so they can support Labour, and that Labour has a thriving social media presence of its own that has made mincemeat of the Tories on that platform for years.

I mean, you’re reading This Site – right?

Professor Wren-Lewis is right to sound a note of caution – but I wonder if he is going too far.

You can read his article here.

What do you think?

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10 thoughts on “Should Labour and the Lib Dems go into an electoral pact?

  1. trev

    I don’t like the sound of that, it might be tactically beneficial, maybe, but the LibDems are not to be trusted and they had their chance to work with Labour before but chose to climb in bed with the Tories just because Nick Clegg’s ego was too big to work with Gordon Brown. And I don’t like Swinson.

  2. kipperwacker

    No to both. People who want a Labour government should vote Labour. I read his blog earlier & wasn’t impressed – but then I rarely am when he strays into politics. He makes it about Brexit. LimpDumps pushed the tactical voting ploy last time & it did Labour no favours. Apparently No 10 have rejected Farridge’s overtures – for now…

  3. J Edington

    No, but for different reasons than you set out, Mike. As you know, my affiliations are not the same as yours but these tactics sorely remind me of those used by Labour in Scotland in 2017. Labour asked voters to vote Tory in seats they couldn’t win, simply to keep the SNP out. I didn’t like the tactics then and it would be rather hypocritical of me to support the tactics just because the sides might suit my own wishes.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You are mistaken – the Labour Party did not suggest that voters support the Tories in any seats at all. A Labour candidate did so, if I recall correctly. That is not the same thing.

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  5. Gary

    No, it won’t happen. Swinson has already refused even a temporary arrangement so she’s not going to go back on that to allow Labour MPs through on the nod to help the party romp to victory, is she?

    And I disagree about Labour bias on the BBC. They aren’t anti-Labour they are anti-Corbyn. They utterly despise him and have gone out of their way to run damaging yet unsupported stories about him. Only hate-preacher Paul Staines has gone further. But in general they are supportive of Blairite Labour policy, and you can see the join. Obvious exceptions were QT under Dimbleby allowing Farage to use it as a platform to build support for UKIP and Brexit.

    Of course current Labour woes are not helped by Watson publicly contradicting Labour policy, Starmer has done no better either. And the PLP attitude to Corbyn by briefing against him and helping the right wing press with its smear campaign is utterly shameful. They should hang their heads in shame. THEY should go off and join the LiDems too, they surely aren’t Labour supporters. Hopefully Momentum will do its best and win the heart and soul of the party back to where it belongs. If it doesn’t then Labour in England will go the same way as Labour in Scotland, a fourth place party not trusted by the very working class voters who is says it represents.

    1. Zippi

      I think that you might be on to something, especially now that the Illiberal Hypocrites are mopping up disaffected Conservatives and “so-called” £abour “moderates.” Aye, there are too many openly contradicting Mr. Corbyn and briefing against him, making the Party look like a bunch of clowns; incoherent, confused, unclear. I always said that people were projecting their ideas onto us, based on their own fears and ambitions but that was in relation to the European Union; I hadn’t considered it of our Parliamentary £abour Party. Now that you mentions it, it becomes startlingly obvious.

  6. jill Phillips

    The fantastical hubris and make-believe of numbskull Jo Swinson means that wherever she finds herself when she’s stopped spinning she’ll still be banging on about being the PM – and, with her party of anti-Corbyn serial defectors, will still be concentrating almost entirely on kicking the best man we’ve ever had out – whilst welcoming ‘The Jewish Labour Movement’,Watson,Hodge and the fake antisemitic elements of the NEC in.
    I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in vomiting each day to the extent that I’d lose the will to vote.

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