Revealed: what the Lib Dems really said to Labour

And why David Laws doesn't want you to know.

Here, for the first time, is the list of demands submitted by the Liberal Democrats during their coalition talks with Labour. In his forthcoming book, 22 Days in May, it is understood that David Laws publishes a selection of documents from the negotiations, including papers tabled by both the Conservatives and Labour. But the former Lib Dem cabinet minister does not include the papers tabled by his own side. And with good reason.

The document, titled Recovery and Renewal: A headline programme for a new government, and tabled on 10 May, reveals that the Lib Dems never had any intention of sticking to their election pledge to delay spending cuts until next year. A section on "the economic recovery and deficit reduction", calls for "further and faster action on the deficit", including "some in year cuts". A senior Labour figure close to the negotiations, described the revelations as "embarrassing" for Laws. The source rejected claims by Laws that a "truculent trio" of Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Harriet Harman wrecked any chance of a progressive coalition, and says that a deal was possible on every issue apart from the pace of deficit reduction.

Read the full document here

In addition, the document reveals that even at this late stage (Monday 10 May) the Lib Dems were still demanding the introduction of the Alternative Vote without a referendum. A significant number of Conservative MPs believe that, in order to secure an improved offer from the Tories, Clegg decieved Cameron into believing that Labour had promised to meet this demand. But Labour figures have since confirmed that this was never the case.

As Jason Cowley writes in tomorrow's issue, the document also reminds us how much the Lib Dems have compromised for power. Nick Clegg and the other Lib Dem negotiators called for a "a commitment not to raise the cap on tuition fees" (a watered-down version of their manifesto pledge to phase out tuition fees over six years), a cut in the number of government ministers, a four year fixed-term parliament and "a commitment to no public subsidy for nuclear power stations". All of these pledges have since been broken by the government.

What is now clear is that Clegg, Laws and Danny Alexander never had any intention of forming a coalition with the Labour. As Jason writes: "[T]he Lib Dems' personal dislike of Gordon Brown (the old saying that you should be good to people on your way up as they will be kind to you in return on your way down was never more applicable than to the former Prime Minister in his hour of urgent need) and the leadership's "Orange Book" neoliberal instincts, and desire to move the party away from its entrenched social liberalism, made a deal with the Conservatives inevitable from the moment the election returned a hung parliament."

The Lib Dem papers do much to improve our understanding of why.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.