Labour may need the Lib Dems as it couldn't afford another election. Photo: Getty
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Money matters: why Labour may need the Lib Dems more then the Tories do

Will the decision whether or not to go into coalition in 2015 depend more on money than on principle?

The hot topic in the Lib Dems right now is all coalition focused, post 2015. And this may well be misplaced. For example, Martin Kettle published an excellent analysis earlier this week about why a hung parliament in 2015 may well not result in another coalition government.

The reflexive prediction of a second coalition government is lazy. It is grounded more in past precedent than present fact. It overlooks something which many observers – including a lot of Liberal Democrats – have not spotted. It is that the Conservatives and the Labour party see powerful advantages in other governing options, even within a hung parliament. If the numbers permit – a proviso that should henceforth be taken as read — both the Tories and Labour will be tempted to spurn coalition and go it alone as a minority government.

He goes on to make a strong case for why both Labour and the Tories would rather tell Nick Clegg to stuff it next May. But I think one factor may have escaped Kettle, and it's one reason why many Lib Dems hope Labour get its act together sooner rather than later and end up as the biggest party in 2015. Sadly it’s less to do with policy and more to do with money.

Any minority government by definition is a vote of no confidence waiting to happen (and most Lib Dems are already dismissing the notion of any sort of confidence and supply arrangement – seen as the worst of both worlds for the party).

So that means a second general election in 2015 – 1974 all over again. If we find the Tories in No 10 in 2015, they’ll call that election themselves, knowing their coffers are full and making running a second campaign in a matter of months a straightforward undertaking. And as a bonus, Ukip will probably be all spent up by then too. It’s the option many Tories think Cameron should have gone for in 2010.

However, that’s not true of Labour, which has nowhere near the same financial clout. Will the unions put their hands in their pockets to fund a second election campaign? Given the unrest around the Miliband leadership already, it seems unlikely. Even less likely if he’s just failed to win a majority when he only needed 35 per cent of the vote to get it.

So while the Labour party may well desire to govern alone, the reality of their finances may mean that’s simply not an option, and the only game in town is a coalition.

Of course, this may not be with the Lib Dems. Who knows how the electoral arithmetic will work out, and maybe the SNP, Ukip, Plaid, the DUP and who-knows-who-else could be in the electoral frame.

But if Ed can’t get over that majority line next May, a coalition government looks far more likely than if the Tories find themselves in a minority position.

What price the reform of party funding then?

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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