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'Rag-bag' coalition not the answer to Labour's electoral challenges says MP

A "rag-bag" coalition of centre-left parties is not the answer to the electoral challenges faced by Labour, according to the shadow housing secretary John Healey.

The Fabian Society think tank, which is strongly associated with the New Labour movement led by Tony Blair, has warned that the party has almost no chance of winning a majority at the next general election.

It suggests it is currently unthinkable that the party will win enough votes to govern alone and should therefore consider calls to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats and SNP.

But Mr Healey said: "It's a serious warning and quite rightly the Fabian Society say the roots of Labour's problem pre-date Jeremy Corbyn, were there at the 2015 election and in some ways there in the 2010 election.

"These are big challenges for Labour but I do not see the answer to Labour's challenge as being to team up with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and a rag-bag of other parties."

The Fabian Society's analysis of polling and election data suggests that Labour is likely to win between 140 and 200 big city and ex-industrial constituencies on as little as 20% of the vote, which would be a further retreat from the 231 seats it currently holds.

The think tank also suggests Labour should put itself in a position to appeal to both Leave and Remain voters in response to the post-Brexit political climate.

Fabian Society general secretary Andrew Harrop said: "As things stand Labour is on track to win fewer than 200 seats, whether the next election comes this year or in 2020.

"Even if Labour recovers it has almost no chance of securing a majority in a general election, because it needs over three million more votes than the Conservatives to win.

"Labour's aim for now should be to move forwards not back and win enough MPs to be able to form a governing partnership with other parties.''

Mr Healey's comments come after union chief Len McCluskey appeared to indicate that Mr Corbyn could step down before the general election if the party's poll ratings remained "awful".

Mr McCluskey said Mr Corbyn should be given the time to prove himself as Labour leader but added that the situation could change if Theresa May did not call an early election and Labour was still struggling in 2019.

Mr Healey agreed with Mr McCluskey's general assessment of the polls.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Of course he is right, they are awful and the challenge now for me and the shadow cabinet and the whole of the party and Jeremy Corbyn as leader is to demonstrate that we can be a strong opposition and a convincing alternative to the Conservatives and that we can win over and win back public opinion, particularly those voters we have lost in recent years."

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