Ed Miliband's policy chief has said he thinks the Liberal Democrats have been a force for good in government, contradicting Labour's usual line of attack against the junior coalition partner.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Lib Dem conference in Brighton on Sunday, Jon Cruddas said: "I think the effect of the Lib Dem element in government has been a benign force."
Cruddas, who was chosen by Miliband in April to lead his policy review, added: "You can see it in the shape and character of it."
His praise for the Lib Dems stands in stark contrast to recent comments by senior Labour figures including the party's deputy leader Harriet Harman, who said Nick Clegg's party were the Tories' "accomplices".
Harman told The Independent on friday: "There will be no cosying up to the Lib Dems. No nods and winks. No political games. No hidden agenda aiming for a future coalition."
"The Liberal Democrats have broken their promises. They are not a brake on the Tories. They are their accomplices."
Last week Labour issued a document titled "What have the Liberal Democrats REALLY done for you?" which accused Clegg's party of a multitude of sins including causing the longest double-dip recession since the Second World War.
In words accompanying the pamphlet Harman said: “The reality about the Lib Dems is a shameful record in government and broken promises.”
In recent weeks there has been increased chatter about the possibility of a Lib-Lab pact after the 2015 general election, a suggestion fulled by rumours that Ed Miliband texts Vince Cable.
While Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes told The Huffington Post UK that more and more Labour MPs have been coming to see him and have “a chat” to prepare the ground.
The different approach to how to deal with the Lib Dems appears to suggest a split in the Labour party leadership over whether to hammer Clegg and co. for working with the Tories, or attempt to 'love bomb' them in preparation for a future coalition.
Cruddas' belief that the Lib Dems have been a brake on the more right-wing tendencies of the Tories will be welcomed by leading Liberals.
On Saturday the party's former chief executive and campaign strategist Lord Rennard said in order to avoid electoral destruction the Lib Dems would have to remind voters what they had prevented the Tories from doing, as well as what they had achieved themselves.
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<strong>Current Job: </strong> Being popular <strong>Pro: </strong>He is popular (with people) <strong>Con:</strong> But he is not popular (with Lib Dem MPs)
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<strong>Current Job: </strong> Hanging out with Hugh Grant <strong>Pro: </strong> Lost his seat so is untainted by Tory germs <strong>Con: </strong> The Sun would monster him
<strong>Current Job: </strong> Mr Swinson <strong>Pro: </strong> Up. And. Coming. <strong>Con</strong> Would have to fight his wife for the job