Tim Farron Lib Dem leader Tim Farron. Photo: Wikimedia/JackWilfred

The left must help to build a massive and radical Labour campaign to beat the Tories – there can be no broad alliance with the Lib Dems

To win means taking votes for Labour from the Tories.

The Lib Dems’ Vince Cable has this morning ruled out any coalition with Labour after the election.

But the Lib Dems refuse to rule out going back into government with the Tories.

These are political facts. They have put paid to all the conjecturing about forming some anti-Tory electoral pact and campaigning for a tactical vote.

The way to get rid of the Tory government is for Labour to take seats from the Tories. That’s it.

That means an insurgent campaign that brings the simmering discontent at the base of British society to boiling point.

That cannot be done with the Lib Dems, because the Lib Dems are still known as having governed with the Tories and are prepared to do so again.

A big anti-Tory campaign by Labour may have the consequence of the anti-Tory vote consolidating in a few non-urban areas tactically.

But that will happen only if there is a massive and radical Labour campaign to beat the Tories everywhere.

That’s what all on the left should help to build.

It will be undermined by chasing the will-o’-the-wisp of a broad alliance with the Lib Dems – because they have ruled it out.

The reason why Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, pro-Lib Dem journalists and so on are talking up the Lib Dems is that they are looking for a result at the election in which the total Lib Dem vote is sufficiently up so as to claim there is support for a new neoliberal centre realignment of politics.

It is not primarily for them about taking Tory seats. The electoral map means that the Lib Dems can take only a limited number of Tory seats anyway – ones they used to hold in the South West of England and parts of the Home Counties.

That’s not enough to propose a new centrist formation. What is needed as well is wasted Lib Dem votes in other parts of the country.

This is a monstrously cynical game aimed not at beating the Tories, but trying to return politics to the days of Tony Blair.

It should be rejected on those grounds, as well as the fact that it can only benefit the Tories – both directly, and by offering them a fallback of a coalition with the Lib Dems.

Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.

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