Exclusive: Ed Miliband appeals to Vince Cable and other senior Liberal Democrats to defect to Labour because the Coalition Government has “betrayed” their principles, writes Cathy Newman.
Capitalising on the Business Secretary’s apparent discomfort with some Coalition policy and positioning in recent weeks, the Labour leader told Channel 4 News that Mr Cable and many other Lib Dems should “jump ship”.
Asked on a campaign trip to South Wales if there was “a home” for the Business Secretary in the Labour Party, Mr Miliband said: “Of course, and there’s a home for any Lib Dem who wants to come and join our Labour party…I think we are now the natural home for progressive politics because we are the only party that can meet a credible claim on social justice.”
He added: “The Conservative-led Government is a betrayal of many of the principles that Lib Dems stood for. I hope as many as possible will either jump ship, or come and work with Labour.”
In his interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Miliband pointed out that Mr Cable was a Labour councillor in the 1970s.
In the aftermath of last year’s General Election, the Business Secretary was a prime mover in talks to form a coalition with Labour before his party joined forces with the Conservatives.
“He’s had an interesting history because I think at one point he was involved in the Labour party way back,” Mr Miliband said.
Senior Lib Dems are warning privately that a poor showing at the local elections on 5 May will destabilise the Coalition and Nick Clegg personally. However, although a growing number of Lib Dem MPs and activists are unhappy with his leadership, they may be reluctant to trigger a leadership challenge because that would in turn prompt a General Election – at which the Lib Dems would risk meltdown.
If, as expected, the party does take a battering on 5 May, David Cameron may find it harder to keep Mr Cable and other members of the Cabinet onside.