John McDonnell rules out 'progressive alliance' between Labour and other parties

Posted On: 
11th December 2016

John McDonnell has launched a furious attack on the Liberal Democrats as he ruled out Labour forming a so-called "progressive alliance" with other parties to take on the Conservatives.

John McDonnell has ruled out a progressive alliance between Labour and other parties.
PA Images

Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis is among those who have suggested an electoral pact between Labour and the likes of the Lib Dems, Greens and SNP as a way of hoovering left-of-centre votes.

But Mr McDonnell totally dismissed the notion on Radio Five's Pienaar's Politics this morning.

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He said: "I saw this floated before the recent by-election and to be frank I don't see joining forces with... the Lib Dems as a progressive force. They certainly weren't a progressive force when they were in coalition with the Conservatives over the last five-to-six years. And if the electoral arithmetic had been slightly different in 2015 they would be back in coalition now implementing austerity measures. So I don't see them as part of a progressive force.

"In addition to that, I just think the electorate would be concerned if they thought parties were stitching up elections privately. I don't think that's the way forward. The way forward is to support and vote for the Labour party."

His comments will be seen as a slap down for Mr Lewis, who told The House magazine last week that senior figures within Jeremy Corbyn's office had told him to "shut up" about Labour doing deals with other parties.

He said: "There are so many options. You could have party membership primaries in terms of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Greens. I’m not saying that’s what I believe, but I think it should be locally-led. Some people prefer the idea of open primaries. 

"You’ve [also] got the Women’s Equality party and others, so you get these progressive parties coming together and maybe selecting a candidate. It may be that in certain seats there are deals to be done, where they say ‘Look, these are the seats where we’re in second place’. There’ll be some that you fight over, there will be some that will be very difficult."

He added: "I get told to shut up when I talk about this. At the end of the day, I have not come into politics to be shut up if I think something’s right."

Mr Lewis has been touted as a potential challenger to Mr Corbyn in the future - but he has strongly denied plotting behind his leader's back.