The Coalition – your views on how long it will last
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Tue July 24, 9:55 a.m. BST
Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservatives’ 1922 committee, recently suggested that the coalition partners would be best off formulating an ‘exit strategy’ ahead of the 2015 general election, saying it would be desirable for his party to articulate what a majority Conservative government would do without the Lib Dem contingent. This naturally promoted speculation as to how long the coalition would last.
YouGov's nationally-representative polling of UK public opinion found that 34% of UK adults believed the Coalition government would stay together until the next election, set for 2015. 28% said it would last until just before the next election, 18% believed it would survive for another one or two years, and 7% of UK adults said the Coalition government would last for less than one year.
We opened up the very same question in YouGov’s PoliticsLab: How long do you think the Conservative-Liberal Democrat union will last?
We also invited you to share your views on what (if anything) the Coalition government’s greatest strength is, as well as its greatest weakness.
Here’s what our panellists had to say:
Q: How long do you think the Coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will last?
The highest proportion of those who took part in the Labs debate said – in line with the nation’s attitudes – that the Coalition government would last up until the next election.
- Those of you who were of this view said that it was in both parties’ interests to keep the Coalition together, and that both would be at risk politically if an election were held today.
- You said that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats would be especially motivated to stay in the Coalition because they have had a taste of power that they have not had in decades.
- Participants argued that an early exit would be particularly parlous for the Lib Dems because of the damage done to their party brand because of issues like student fees, and more generally for being complicit in the Conservative austerity programme.
Participants who believed the Coalition government would last another one or two years, tended to say that:
- The lack of popular support for the leadership of each party would provide an impetus for them to stay united, but increasing public pressure and discontent in the backbenches would eventually cause the coalition to break apart.
Participants who thought the Coalition would break apart just before the next election usually argued that:
- Neither Coalition partner has enough public support for them to want to end the Coalition agreement much before the next election, but both would want a brief period in which to differentiate themselves ahead of a national poll.
While participants who believed the Coalition government would last for less than one year often remarked that:
- The differences between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were so pronounced that backbench pressure, particularly on the Tory side, would cause an early end to the Coalition government, they said.
Read the range of reasons submitted in Labs below as to why participants feel the Coalition would last the distance, or fracture prematurely:
Q: What if anything, do you see as the biggest strength of the coalition government?
- Many participants said that a ‘diversity of views’ around the cabinet table, and ‘keeping Labour out of government’ were the coalition’s greatest strengths.
- Some said David Cameron and the Conservatives were the government’s best asset, while others said the inclusion of the Liberal Democrats helped ‘restrain’ the Tories.
- ‘Nothing’ and ‘none at all’ were also popular answers, indicating many of those who took part in the debate were less than enamoured with the coalition government.
And what, if anything, do you see as the biggest weakness of the coalition government?
- ‘Indecision’, ‘differing visions’ and ‘infighting’ were cited by many participants as the coalition government’s biggest weaknesses.
- The leaders of both coalition parties, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, were mentioned individually and as a pair as the coalition’s biggest weakness.
- Many of you criticised Nick Clegg for being too compliant with the Tory agenda, while others said the government would be more effectual if the Tories weren’t held back by the Lib Dems.
How long do you think the Coalition will last?
And, more generally, would you say you prefer a Coalition government? Or a single-party majority?