Owen Smith doubts possible Labour-Lib Dem coalition

A leading Welsh Labour figure has cast doubt on future coalition with Liberal Democrats after they "propped up a very right-wing Conservative government".

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said such an alliance would be "difficult".

However, earlier former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain suggested Labour could form a coalition if it fails to win an majority at the next general election.

Mr Smith, speaking at the Labour conference, said his party was "gunning to try and win" a majority.

Writing in the Independent on Sunday, Neath MP Mr Hain suggested majority single-party governments may become the exception in a future where coalitions are semi-permanent fixtures.

The Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Conservatives after the 2010 general election when no party won an outright majority.

Mr Hain argued that Lib Dem members might reject the leadership who "hijacked their party and took it into bed with the Tories," including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeter Hain says Labour could form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats if it fails to win an overall majority at the next general election.

"A new Lib Dem leadership more in tune with the party's traditions will make it much easier for Ed Miliband to strike a deal - assuming, of course, that there are sufficient Lib Dem MPs remaining after a probable battering," he wrote.

"In that context, Ed Miliband's vision of Labour holds great attractions for those anxious to establish a government for the progressive, anti-Tory majority that was often denied office in the last century."

He told BBC Radio Wales Labour was "well-placed to be the biggest party at the next general election".

Mr Hain added: "Whether we can actually win after a bad defeat last time - win outright - remains to be seen.

"I think it's quite possible, but that depends on the next couple of years of government."

'Truly awful defeat'

Responding to his predecessor's comments at the start of the Labour conference, Mr Smith said: "It will be difficult, we know that.

"We know that we had the worst defeat since 1918.

"It was a truly awful defeat for Labour and we know that we've got to work very hard to win back peoples' trust in order to give us a chance of winning the next election.

"We're definitely the underdogs in this fight right now but we're doing better than we were last year, we're doing better certainly than we were two years ago and I don't think we really need to start thinking right now - interesting a parlour game though it is - about whether we go into coalition with the Lib Dems or anyone else."

He said a coalition with the Lib Dems would be "difficult, truthfully, because I think we feel that the Lib Dems have propped up a very right-wing Conservative government".

More on this story

Around the BBC