More Talking Coalitions

by Stephen Tall on September 15, 2007

On Monday, it was Mark Oaten who was talking coalitions. The liberal think-tank Centre Forum is also joining in the conversation, and have just published a pamphlet, Lib-Lab: can Labour and the Liberal Democrats co-operate?, authored by Julian Astle and Alasdair Murray.

You can read the document as a PDF here. Here’s the abstract to whet your appetite:

Gordon Brown’s attempt in the summer of 2007 to bring a number of Liberal Democrat peers into his government reopened the debate about co-operation between the two parties. In the event, Menzies Campbell blocked the move, ruling out the prospect of any Liberal Democrat parliamentarians accepting ministerial positions in this parliament. Campbell claimed that the ‘political chasm’ between the parties on issues such as nuclear energy, Trident, ID cards, public services, council tax and the war in Iraq made such a deal impossible to countenance.

But is he right? Is the fissure in progressive politics as wide as he suggests? In seeking to answer this question, this paper focuses not on the detailed policies of each party, which in any case are subject to regular revision, but on the underlying values, instincts and attitudes that shape those policies. It sets out, in broad terms, each party’s approach to the key policy challenges of the day and seeks to identify whether some form of cross party collaboration is possible. Finally, it explores what all of this might mean in the event of the next general election resulting in a hung parliament.