The former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Roy Hattersley, believes that the Liberal Democrats are likely to be the coming force in British politics under the new leadership of Jo Swinson.

Speaking to the Herald ahead of a talk he is giving later this week at the Edinburgh International Book Festival about the future of the Labour Party, the retired peer said he expected the Liberals to appeal to Remain voters in any future election.

“I think the Liberals are going to come on very fast,” Lord Hattersley said. “I think there is that feeling in the country that Europe has been mishandled. There’s probably a natural majority for staying in the European Union, and Liberals speaking out for that, even after we leave, will do them a power of good. So, I think we are going to see something of a Liberal revival.”

Read More: Face to Face with Roy Hattersley

Labour, he suggests, will suffer because their position in Europe is unclear. “One of my complaints is we have failed to adopt a serious position over the great issue of our time, perhaps the great issue of the century; where Britain’s future lies. Our party doesn’t have a firm position in either direction.”

Lord Hattersley, who served in the Wilson and Callaghan Labour governments in the 1970s and was Shadow Home Secretary and deputy leader under Neil Kinnock through the 1980s, also suggests Labour’s current poor standing in Scotland is because the party under Tony Blair lost its radical edge allowing the SNP filled the vacuum. “If we had a genuinely radical Labour party – not an extreme Labour party – I think Labour would do much better than it is doing in Scotland.”

Lord Hattersley also admitted that he is now in favour of the introduction of proportional representation in General elections. “I wasn’t for many years, but I am now on the basis that I think it’s likely that from now on we’ll have coalition governments. Proportional representation makes that certain and I think it would be a good thing if people went into an election expecting a coalition and voting according to the knowledge that it will be a coalition, rather than voting for one party in the mistaken belief that that one party will run the country.

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“So, I would l like the establishment of that sort of mixed government to be improved and made obvious by PR. That’s one big change that’s come over me in the last ten years.”

In his interview Lord Hattersley also talks about his own career in politics and his belief that the late Labour leader John Smith would have been one of the great Prime Ministers if not for his untimely death in 1994. “If John had lived, we would have had a proper Labour government.”