No political party wants to give up power. They are, after all, in the business of trying to govern. But the voices urging Labour to eschew a grand deal with the Liberal Democrats and regroup in opposition may have learned a valuable historic lesson.
In 1992, John Major surprised everyone by winning the election; some commentators went so far as to predict we would never again see another Labour government. Yet after the ERM crisis and umpteen sleaze allegations it was the Tories who were out of power for a generation. Had the Conservatives lost the 1992 election it would have been Labour which inherited the crisis and the Tories might well have returned to office at the next election. Instead they lost their reputation for economic competence and became hated.
Labour is not yet hated. People were doubtless tired of this government and ready for a change but the party is not hated. If it clings on in power against the public mood, trying to drive through highly unpopular but necessary economic reforms, it risks becoming as loathed as the Tories did in 1997. A disciplined period in opposition with a new leader may well be a better long term bet, even if letting go of the levers of power now seems against every political instinct.