Tories more concerned about Lib Dems than Labour says expert
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The accusation of an alliance between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats surged in the run-up to the local elections earlier this month. But perhaps the speculation, batted down by the leaders at the time, will become reality ahead of the planned general election in 2024, Joseph Robertson suggested to Express.co.uk.
Mr Robertson, director of the Orthodox Conservative Group, said the prospect of a pact between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats is both evitable and an indication of “weakness on the part of both parties”.
He added: “Right now the Conservatives really should be at an all-time low, in terms of their polling significance, but the reality is the second and third largest parties are having to team up to have any chance of winning in that conversation.”
One of the immediate impacts of such an alliance could be a “boost” to Conservative interests”, he argued.
But the long-term story may be slightly different, as it may be a survival requirement for the Opposition and the third-place Liberal Democrats.
Mr Robertson said: “Long term, I think it will be necessary for there to be some kind of pact between Labour and [the] Lib Dems to really make an impact at the next general election.”
He added: “I don’t think either party is surging in the way they probably hoped they would at locals, and they probably will be led to some kind of coalition further down the line.”
The local elections saw the Conservatives lose almost 500 seats, whereas an optimistic Sir Keir celebrated modest gains in London.
Outside of the capital, Labour made less of a dint, with Sir Ed Davey lauding the results as “an almighty shockwave that will bring this Conservative government tumbling down”.
Mr Johnson called it a “tough night” for the Tories, but with the caveat that some areas saw “quite remarkable gains in places that haven’t voted Conservative for a long time”.
Ahead of the local elections earlier this month, the Labour and Liberal Democrat leadership denied any intention to form a cross-party alliance against the Conservatives.
Sir Ed Davey insisted: “There’s no pact now. There’s not going to be a pact in the future.”
But Oliver Dowden, Conservative Party chair, penned a note to Sir Keir Starmer in which he accused him of a clandestine alliance with the Lib Dems to benefit both parties’ local election results.
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The Labour leader fired back, telling Sky News not to “take anything Oliver Dowden says particularly seriously”.
He added: “There is no pact, everybody knows there is no pact.”
Sir Keir continued on to say: “I think – and I’ll happily have this checked out – that we are standing more Labour candidates in this election than we’ve ever stood.
“We’re very… we’re out there. I’ve got teams working across the country, we’re positive, we’re laser-focused on the cost-of-living crisis, and all you get from the government is mudslinging.”
Neal Lawson, director of cross-party campaign group Compass, quipped in the Guardian: “The Tories fear a progressive alliance, and Labour and the Liberal Democrats seem to fear saying openly that they want one.”
He then accused Mr Dowden of toeing the line of “hypocrisy”, adding that “the Tories are well aware of the benefits of electoral pacts”.
He added: “At the 2019 general election there was a clear pact between the Conservatives and the Brexit party, the latter’s candidates standing aside because of shared values and the imperative not to split their vote.
“It helped deliver a big majority for the Conservatives. Dowden rightly fears the gains progressive parties could make if they replicate such deals.”
Back in 2019, Nigel Farage told the public his Brexit Party would not fight Conservative seats in the December general election.
He announced: “The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives won at the last election, but what we will do is concentrate our total effort in all of the seats that are held by the Labour Party who have completely broken their manifesto pledge in 2017 to respect the result of the [referendum] and we will also take on the rest of the Remainer parties.”
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