UK Politics

Labour 'must rule out' Lib Dem pact says Unite boss

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Media captionLen McCluskey says Labour should rule out a coalition with the Liberal Democrats

Labour should rule out forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the 2015 general election, Unite leader Len McCluskey has told the BBC.

The union boss told Newsnight Ed Miliband should have the "courage of his convictions" and lead a minority government if necessary after next May.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said a Labour or Conservative-only government would threaten the economic recovery.

Labour said it was fighting to win an outright majority next year.

The Conservatives agreed to govern in coalition with the Lib Dems after the 2010 election produced an inconclusive result - with the Tories winning the most seats but falling short of the number required for a majority.

Hung Parliament

Polling experts have said another hung Parliament remains a possibility after the next election.

However, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that David Cameron is set to rule out the possibility of another Conservative-Lib Dem pact well ahead of next year's poll.

Asked if Mr Miliband should do the same, Mr McCluskey - whose Unite union is Labour largest financial backer - said he fully backed the idea of Labour going on its own.

"Labour, I hope, win the next election outright, but if they are the biggest party then my view is Ed should have the courage of his convictions and govern on a minority government," he said.

"My view is that Ed shouldn't be sucked into a Lib-Lab pact. He should have the courage of his convictions if we are the largest party, he should govern."

In 2010, the Conservatives ruled out the option of governing as a minority and seeking the support of other parties on a vote-by-vote basis, arguing this would create instability at a time of economic crisis.

'Past mistakes'

But Mr McCluskey said Labour should consider such an arrangement and see whether the other parties would be prepared to trigger another election.

"He should challenge those coalition parties to bring him down if necessary and go back to the people so that there's a stark alternative," he said.

He added: "I think that one of the things that people are looking for is something different and I'm afraid that the reason why politicians are not particularly popular at the moment is people don't see any differences, so I think they're looking for people who have courage of their convictions."

Senior Labour and Lib Dem figures have made conciliatory noises about each other in recent months, prompting speculation about talk of a deal if Labour emerges as the largest party after the election but short of a majority.

Earlier this month, Mr Clegg said Labour had "changed" and realised it may have to share power with a rival party.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Clegg said the other parties could make whatever pre-election commitments they liked but he believed Lib Dem participation in the next government was vital for the UK's economy.

"A Labour-only government would make the mistakes of the past and a Conservative only government would not govern in the fair way that most people in the country would want," he said.

"I think a government with the Lib Dems in it is the best guarantee that we will not only finish the job of securing the economic recovery but will finish it fairly."

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