Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Bradshaw: I'd be "very comfortable" working with Lib Dems - it's what voters want

Gordon Brown is in The Independent today talking in code about forming a “progressive alliance” which is taken to mean Labour and the Lib Dems uniting to fight the Tories.
But in an interview in today’s Western Morning News, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has been more explicit.
He said he would be “very comfortable” working with the Liberal Democrats, and even suggested the public should vote to force the two parties into a coalition.
“There is very little you could put between me and many Lib Dems.”
The Culture Secretary’s 8,559 majority in Exeter has been heavily targeted by the Tories, and success in retaining the seat could depend in part on wooing Lib Dem supporters.
He pointed to voting reform, the green agenda, overhauling the House of Lords, Europe and helping those on low incomes as common ground between Labour and the Lib Dems.
In an “unpredictable election”, he said he wanted Labour to win outright, but repeatedly stressed he could “work effectively with Liberal Democrats on those reforming issues”.
Speaking after a day campaigning in the city, Mr Bradshaw said:
“I work very well with local Lib Dems. I share a great deal in common with them.
“I get a lot of positive feedback from Liberal Democrats on the doorstep in Exeter who realise that the only way they will get real political reform and a fairer voting system is either by voting for a Labour government, or Labour working with the Lib Dems. The Conservatives are the no-change party.
“I think it is very exciting. I think we have a unique and historic opportunity in Britain for real change, that I have been arguing and campaigning for years – meaningful change to the electoral system and reform of the House of Lords.”
Recent opinion polls suggested a third of people wanted to see no overall winner.
“It is very interesting that the public would actually welcome a balanced parliament.
The public want change, they don’t want change to the Conservatives and the way they can get change they want is by making Liberal Democrats and Labour work together.”
He insisted Labour was “fighting very hard” and “not taking anything for granted”.
In the Westcountry, Labour’s best hopes of retaining power depend on the Lib Dems holding back the Tory party. In 10 of the dozen seats the Conservative need for a majority, 10 are Lib Dem/Tory battles.

UPDATE: The fightback begins. "Ben Bradshaw is no friend of the Lib Dems in Devon," is how Brian Greenslade, former Lib Dem leader of Devon County Council puts it.
"This is just desparate Labour trying to cosy up to the Lib Dems in the hope of hanging onto office."

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