Jack Straw has revealed that he was relived that Labour did not form a coalition with the Lib Dems in May. The statement comes as the coalition at Westminster marks its first hundred days in power. Straw says he felt that they would have been scrabbling around for votes to get items passed - a point I made at the time.
He also says there is inherent mistrust within Labours ranks of the Lib Dems. Well I have news for you Jack; it cuts both ways! The tribal behaviours I have seen over the years from Labour politicians does make them very unreliable bed fellows. This tribalism was exemplified again this weekend when I learned that Alan Milburn had been asked to assit the government in developing social mobility policies. He was accused of being a collaborator by Lord Prescott. Very harsh words when you consider he is being asked to help the government of the UK!
Their tribalism in its self would not preclude working with them as we managed to do so reasonably well at Holyrood and manage to do in councils the length and breadth of the UK. What ruled this out in this time were the numbers not stacking up plus the fact that Labour lost the election. I know that nobody won the election outright but Labour were in power and suffered heavy losses. There was a sense that they had been voted out and that could not be ignored.
The coalition seems to be working reasonably well with good approval ratings for it but poorer poll ratings for the Liberal Democrats. I would urge our MP's to keep their nerve. Poll ratings go up and down. Our ratings will recover in due course as the public sees what we manage to achieve in government just as they did at a Scottish level when we were in coalition with Labour.
One such achievement would be the proposed reform of Welfare integrating the tax and benefit system. I have campaigned over the years for this. It will at a stroke abolish the poverty trap and provide a dynamism to the economy. I hope that this very liberal idea is implemented as soon as they can manage it.