Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 “if the arithmetic is there”

Former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris has said his party and Labour need to be in a postion to form a progressive coalition after the next election.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris has said his party and Labour need to be in a postion to form a progressive coalition after the next election. The ex-MP for Oxford West and Abingdon – who reaffirmed his position as one of the leading Lib Dem progressives last week with an attack on Nick Clegg over the fairness of the budget – was speaking at a Compass fringe event on the “progressive alliance” at the Labour party conference yesterday.

Dr Harris said that “in terms of culture and policy” the Liberal Democrats were much closer to Labour, and that “if the arithmetic is there” his party should look to form a coalition with Labour, provided “we have the numbers and policy overlap”.

He also said there was “no chance” of an electoral pact with the Conservatives and described the recent Chris Huhne/Baroness Warsi double act (in which the Conservative party chair and the Lib Dem climate secretary launched a joint attack on Labour over public finances) as a “big mistake”, adding “anything with Warsi is a mistake”.

On the alternative vote referendum, he praised Ed Miliband for saying he would vote yes and said Labour “has nothing to fear” from AV. He said: “It should be easy to avoid a Conservative-led government as there will be more progressive votes” – as there were at the last election and at every general election since 1945, a point illustrated by Left Foot Forward last year. Dr Harris was also encouraged by the new Labour leader’s remarks on no id cards and the “rapprochement on civil liberties“.

He finished with a warning to Labour to cease the shrill attacks and shouts of “betrayal” against the Lib Dems – which were noticably absent in Mr Miliband’s leader’s speech on Tuesday – explaining how it would be counter-productive to describe the coalition as a “Tory government”, as “this would only seek to enhance the conservatives’ progressive credentials and allow them to take credit for all our policy gains, like on environmental policy, the Human Rights Act, on capital gains tax and tax cuts for the least well off in work”.

24 Responses to “Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 “if the arithmetic is there””

  1. GuyAitchison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there": http://bit.ly/beEX88

  2. LL

    RT @leftfootfwd: Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there": http://bit.ly/beEX88

  3. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there": http://is.gd/fC2Yq – @DrEvanHarris @CompassOffice #lab10 event

  4. Sarah Whitebread

    RT @leftfootfwd: Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there": http://bit.ly/beEX88

  5. rowan davies

    Nail/head: @drevanharris says 'anything with Warsi is a mistake' (and makes eyes at E-Mil) http://bit.ly/beEX88 via @GuyAitchison

  6. Nadia

    RT @rowandavies: Nail/head: @drevanharris says 'anything with Warsi is a mistake' (and makes eyes at E-Mil) http://bit.ly/beEX88 via @Gu …

  7. Sarah Brown

    RT @leftfootfwd: Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there": http://bit.ly/beEX88

  8. richdavidson

    RT @rowandavies: Nail/head: @drevanharris says 'anything with Warsi is a mistake' (and makes eyes at E-Mil) http://bit.ly/beEX88 via @Gu …

  9. Lee Chalmers

    RT @GuyAitchison: RT @leftfootfwd: Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there": http://bit.ly/beEX88

  10. Tab

    RT @rowandavies: Nail/head: @drevanharris says 'anything with Warsi is a mistake' (and makes eyes at E-Mil) http://bit.ly/beEX88 via @Gu …

  11. Chris Wiggin

    RT @rowandavies: Nail/head: @drevanharris says 'anything with Warsi is a mistake' (and makes eyes at E-Mil) http://bit.ly/beEX88 via @Gu …

  12. LiberalCommunist

    Spot on – I hope Labour activists take their cue from Ed M. Give Lib Dem progressives a pluralist space to move into. Hostility will just drive them to either close ranks, or drop out of the game altogether.

  13. New Labour Leader??? - Page 8 - The Liverpool Way

    […] Re: New Labour Leader??? Interesting that Evan Harris is pushing for a Lib/Lab coalition in 2015, claiming that the two parties were much closer together than the Libs and Tories – wonder if that is shared by his party? Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there" | Left Foot Forwar… […]

  14. Ralph Ferrett

    RT @leftfootfwd: Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 "if the arithmetic is there" http://bit.ly/beEX88

  15. Lee Durbin

    Evan Harris: Progressive coalition in 2015 “if the arithmetic is there”|Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/bhTiRj

  16. John Ruddy

    Its all very well for him to say these things, but the actions and beliefs of some MPs (and ministers) in the Liberal Democrats make this difficult to take seriously. A number of Liberal Democrat activists have said that they will never countenance a coalition with Labour, under any circumstances – quite contrary to the position taken before the election – like so many things the Liberal Democrats said.

  17. Ash

    Good grief – not that hard-won concession “tax cuts for the least well off in work” again. (“Oh no, Nick! Please don’t make us cut income tax – we ‘ll have to put up VAT if we do that!”)

    As for:

    “how it would be counter-productive to describe the coalition as a “Tory government”, as “this would only seek to enhance the conservatives’ progressive credentials and allow them to take credit for all our policy gains, like on environmental policy, the Human Rights Act, on capital gains tax and tax cuts for the least well off in work”

    – is this really how it works – the Tories get no credit for pursuing progressive policies, and the Lib Dems get no blame for pursuing regressive ones? Isn’t this supposed to be a Coalition Government, collectively responsible for its actions?

  18. mike

    Big fan of Evan

    But lets look at the NHS White Paper

    of course we should attack it

    its a disgrace and Lib Dems know it

    Lansley has walked all over them no wounder Redwood praises Lansley not Gove

    Lib Dems need to get a grip of the NHS White Paper

    You can play your part Evan

  19. Mr. Sensible

    Before entertaining this idea I think the Lib Dems need to look at themselves in the mirror.

    And Ash you’re right; the comment about being progressive does not add up.

    It’s nice to see 1 Lib Dem, 1 of a few, who hasn’t sold out on his principles. But he’s going to have to convince a few of his coleagues first, I think.

  20. Mr. Sensible

    Mike, talking of the NHS reforms, am I right in saying what they’re proposing wasn’t even in the Coalition agreement?

  21. Dr Evan Harris

    @leftfootfwd Enjoyed the article on the compass fringe http://bit.ly/beEX88 Btw I am @drevanharris on twitter @shamikdas @okayiguess

  22. Dr Evan Harris

    @leftfootfwd @GuyAitchison @leechalmers @ralphferrett @xentahl Please see my comment on the blog post http://bit.ly/beEX88

  23. Evan Harris

    This is a accurate post except 1) that my criticism of Nick Clegg about over-stating the fairness point in the fringe meeting and in the Guardian was not an “attack” and 2) that the headline misses the main point of what I said which was that there needed to be both the arithmetic to allow a Lib-Lab coalition and sufficient policy overlap and the latter requires efforts by both parties in policy development.

    @johnruddy – I don’t any Lib Dems who say they would never countenance a coalition with Labour after next election.

    @Mr. Sensible – Those who talk of coalitions as involving “selling out principles” never talk that way about their own party when they do it (Labour in Scotland and Wales) or indeed who they do it with (Lib Dems & Plaid in Scotland and Wales). So it seems that you only sell out principles when entering a pragmatic coalition when it is another party doing it with another party.

    @mike – I agree plenty of concerns with NHS white paper – esp continuation of contestability/competition/privatisation championed by Milburn, Reid, Hewitt and Burnham. And much not in coalition agreement. Work needed.

  24. Will Nick agree with Nick? | Left Foot Forward

    […] beneficial to the Conservative hierarchy keen to prevent the possibility of the so called ‘progressive alliance‘ long envisioned between Labour and the Lib Dems by many on the left. Allowing the coalition […]

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