Lib Dems 'should work with Labour'

Labour and Liberal Democrats should work together on Lords reform, according to leading politicians from both parties.

At a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem conference organised by CentreForum and the Fawcett Society, Lord Adonis said reform of the upper House, climate change and media regulation were areas where 'progressive parties' should join forces to oppose the Conservatives.

Lord Adonis, a former Lib Dem turned Labour cabinet minister, said there is "not a cat's chance in hell" of the coalition delivering an elected Lords under their current plans.

He said that the fight for Commons reform is over for the time being, and progressives should concentrate on the Lords.

He urged Lib Dems to encourage their own peers to back PR elections for the upper House.

Lib Dem MP John Leech also backed cooperation with Labour on Lords reform, but claimed that Labour "do not understand the concept of coalition".

He said the opposition party "aggressively oppose anything" the Lib Dems are trying to do in government.

Labour MP Gisela Stuart said that while the Lib Dems had no choice other than to go into government with the Tories, they have been "blooded", with Lib Dem ministers in nearly every spending department, leaving them "tainted".

"Be much clearer on what you stand for," was her advice. She said she would back a policy to lift more people out of income tax.

Norman Lamb, who is Nick Clegg’s chief adviser, said there is anxiety in the Lib Dem party that going into coalition will lead to a loss of identity. He argued it could have the opposite effect.

He said he "hates tribal politics" and called for a "civilised dialogue" with Labour while continuing to work with the Tories.

He accused some of Labour of being hysterical about the coalition, while the progressive cause stalled under their government.

Lord Adonis reflected on his own political journey, and claimed he joined Labour because "Tony Blair did a reverse takeover" of the party to bring it into line with his social democratic beliefs.

Lamb suggested that the Lib Dems could work with Labour on health and social care reform, as well as climate change.