Plausibility of Labour-Alliance Coalition in a 1983 Hung Parliamnet

Hi guys. I’m thinking of writing a timeline in which the SDP-Liberal Alliance are able to form a Government in the 1980s. With possible PODs being Tony Benn winning deputy leadership of the Labour Party, the Alliance maintaining its initial momentum, humiliation in the Falklands or no Falklands war all together, assuming that it would be implausible for a total majority in the House, let’s envision that the Alliance gets a size able amount of seats, allowing them to become the second largest party in Westminster, or remaining third but with almost 10x more seats in OTL. Assuming that both the Conservatives and Labour Party do terribly, creating a Hung Parliament. How plausible would a Labour-SDP-Liberal coalition be, assuming that the Alliance does not split following the election?

Furthermore does anybody have any suggestions for Conservative MPs who could of defected to the alliance ?
 
Hi guys. I’m thinking of writing a timeline in which the SDP-Liberal Alliance are able to form a Government in the 1980s. With possible PODs being Tony Benn winning deputy leadership of the Labour Party, the Alliance maintaining its initial momentum, humiliation in the Falklands or no Falklands war all together, assuming that it would be implausible for a total majority in the House, let’s envision that the Alliance gets a size able amount of seats, allowing them to become the second largest party in Westminster, or remaining third but with almost 10x more seats in OTL. Assuming that both the Conservatives and Labour Party do terribly, creating a Hung Parliament. How plausible would a Labour-SDP-Liberal coalition be, assuming that the Alliance does not split following the election?

Furthermore does anybody have any suggestions for Conservative MPs who could of defected to the alliance ?
Highly unlikely. Many Labour left wingers regarded the SDP as traitors and wouldn't have stomached a coalition. Tony Benn would have resigned as deputy leader and may have formed a "Socialist Party" along side Heffer, Skinner etc

But all things being possible a coalition could hold. I guess Owen and Steel would want cabinet posts. As regards defections I can imagine Jim Prior jumping ship alongside Brocklebank-Fowler and at a outside chance Heath.
 
Do you know of any other potential defectors from Labour? Do you have any idea where I can find a list of PLP members and how they voted in the 1981 deputy leadership electon?
 
It’d make the SPD look a little silly to have defected from labour only to prop them up in government. Maybe less formal support through a confidence-and-supply agreement would keep both happier.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Many Labour supporters (me among them) blamed the SDP for Thatcher winning the '83 election, on the basis that, if we had stayed together, Labour would have had a more moderate manifesto rather than the longest suicide note in history, and not had the votes that would have won us the election "stolen".

Yeah, we did have delusions of mediocrity even back then!
 
Do you know of any other potential defectors from Labour? Do you have any idea where I can find a list of PLP members and how they voted in the 1981 deputy leadership electon?
Ivor Crewe and Anthony King's 1995 book SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic Party is the bible of all things SDP, and gives a full picture of the internal and external struggles the SDP faced in the 80s, highly recommend.
The appendix features two lists of potential SDP recruits amongst the PLP, first those who rebelled with Roy Jenkins to vote in favour of EEC application in 1971:
Leo Abse
Peter Archer
Joel Barnett
Tam Dalyell
Ifor Davies
Dick Douglas*
Jack Dunnett
Andrew Faulds*
Ben Ford*

Roy Hattersley
Denis Howell
Alex Lyon
Roy Mason
Arthur Palmer*
Robert Sheldon
Sam Silkin
John Smith
Philip Whitehead*
Fred Willey

Second, a list of those in addition to the above list who were mentioned privately in interviews/speculated in the press as potential SDP defectors:
Donald Anderson
Betty Boothroyd
Ian Campbell
Stan Cohen
Donald Dewar
Alan Fitch
George Foulkes
Harry Gourlay
Brynmor John
Jimmy Johnson
Walter Johnson
Harry Lamborn (died August 1982)
Giles Radice
Albert Roberts
George Robertson
Shirley Summerskill
Tom Urwin
James White
William Whitlock
Alan Williams

Those above marked with an asterisk are those who were strongly suspected as likely SDP defectors, and would almost certainly have defected had Benn won the deputy leadership in 1981. Of all the non-defectors who didn't defect Philip Whitehead was involved in much of the initial 1979-80 backbench discussions about leaving the party but ultimately managed to find just enough reasons to remain (he lost his Derby North seat in 1983 anyway).
Others on the list were highly unlikely to defect, like Roy Hattersley and Tam Dalyell, and Robert Sheldon and Joel Barnett were strong Healey loyalists and would have been very unlikely to leave unless Healey did so - which he wouldnt have.
 
There was a bit of a divide within the Alliance over who they would rather partner with if given the choice. For obvious reasons, the SDP were very sceptical of any arrangement with a Foot led Labour Party, and if Benn had a formal leadership position, I think the chances of that are zero. Steel was more instinctively anti-Thatcherite, and had a good working relationship with Foot, so would have probably preferred Labour if all other things were equal. I think the closest you'll get to a left wing Labour propped up by the Alliance at this time is the Liberals splitting with the SDP to give confidence and supply. But a more prominent role for Benn is going to make it very difficult for the Liberals to swallow.

Even then, you need to keep Thatcher or one of her close allies in charge of the Tories to keep them unpalatable to the Liberals. In a scenario where the Falklands are lost, then Maggie is probably gone, and replaced by Whitelaw or some other wet who both sides of the Alliance will be a lot more comfortable with, and will partner with over a Foot/Benn led Labour any day of the week.

In terms of Tory MPs who could have joined the Alliance, my book on the SDP (also the one by Crewe and King) says that Norman St John Stevas came to the brink of defecting, but pulled back, and it was also discussed by Stephen Dorrell, Hugh Dykes, David Knox, Keith Stainton, and John Wells. If it got to the point where the Alliance had displaced the Tories as one of the two major parties, I think you'd ultimately some of the big beast One Nation Tories like Ken Clarke, Heseltine, Prior, and Gilmour migrate towards them, similar to what we saw in France after Macron proved he could win.
 
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