Left Watch

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Tim Farron tells Ed Miliband to renounce Bush and Murdoch before making any more outreach to Lib Dems

Tim Montgomerie

During the leadership race Ed Miliband wasn't nice about the Lib Dems but he avoided knocking them during his first speech as leader and has today made a direct overture to a party that, at the grassroots level, leans left:

"To those who are reluctant to abandon ship but are concerned about the direction of their party, I invite them to work with us on issues of common interest ... I have asked Liam Byrne to work with Richard Grayson [a former Lib Dem policy director] to draw up areas where our policy review can be informed by submissions and ideas of Liberal Democrats who want to contribute. To Liberal Democrats who fear their deal with the Tories is shifting the gravity of British politics to the right, I invite them to work with us against the direction in which this government is taking Britain."

Mr Miliband highlighted three areas of common interest: social mobility, the economy and "the way we do our politics".

Tim Farron, the leaft-leaning President of the Lib Dems (and my tip to be the party's next leader) rebuked the Labour leader in pretty strong terms*: 

"Labour have just spent 13 years sucking up to Rupert Murdoch and George Bush - why would any sane progressive even give them a second glance? As part of the coalition government, Liberal Democrats have started fixing Labour's economic mess, taking millions of people out of Income Tax and reforming British politics. Things Labour had 13 years to do but failed to deliver. The Liberal Democrats have also announced more cash for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, one of the biggest moves to improve social mobility in decades. Continuing that work is something far more attractive to Liberal Democrats than helping Ed Miliband's increasingly desperate attempts to work out what he actually stands for. However, if he is serious about co-operation then the first thing he should do is stop the Labour Party's attempts to block the referendum on electoral reform that he claims to support."

The FT Westminster blog has a report on other parts of Ed Miliband's press conference including this difficult-to-dispute observation:  the pro-AV campaign will lose if Nick Clegg is the figurehead.

* I'm grateful to Andrew Sparrow for the quotes.