Labour must be ready for coalition

Labour will struggle to win the next general election outright and should be ready to go into coalition with Liberal Democrats, according to a former Cabinet minister.

Ex-Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said voters were increasingly "promiscuous" and single-party government could be "the exception rather than the norm in future".

In a new section for the paperback edition of his memoirs, Outside In, Mr Hain wrote: "That means Labour needs to fight harder than ever for every vote in order to win elections.

"But it also means the Party must accept that coalition politics may become a semi-permanent fixture in British parliamentary democracy, just as it has in local government."

The Neath MP praised Ed Miliband's leadership and said it was "realistic" for Labour to hope to govern at least as the biggest party after the election.

"The question then is: with whom? It seems likely that the 'Orange Book' Lib Dem leadership - which hijacked their Party and took it into bed with the Tories - will be rejected by a membership desperate to restore the tradition of Asquith, Lloyd George, Keynes, Beveridge, Jo Grimond, David Steel, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell.

"That assumes, of course, that there are sufficient Lib Dem MPs remaining after a probable battering in 2015."

:: Outside In is published in paperback by Biteback on Tuesday.