Coalition politics: the Lib Dems' delicate position

February 19, 2014, 9:00 AM GMT+0

A coalition between the Liberal Democrats and Labour is slightly more popular than one with the Conservatives, but among current Lib Dem voters it is not

In a BBC Radio 4 programme on Monday night Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg talked openly about a possible coalition with Labour in 2015. He said that he thought Labour had “changed” and were realising they might have to share power; he also said the Conservatives have “become much more ideological”.

New YouGov polling reveals the delicate position that Mr Clegg finds himself in when making speculations of this sort.

Overall, a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats is marginally more popular than one between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats with voters. 42% prefer the former; 39% prefer the latter.

But this does not simply translate to a win for a Labour-Lib Dem coalition in 2015.

Of the seats that the Liberal Democrats won in 2010, there are nearly twice as many Lib Dem-Conservative marginals as Lib Dem-Labour marginals. And among those Nick Clegg can count on for a vote – those who now say they will vote for the Liberal Democrats in 2015 – the majority (56%) say they would prefer a coalition with the Conservatives, while 39% would prefer one with Labour.

On the other hand, however, the much bigger group who voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 – those who Nick Clegg will be hoping can be persuaded to vote for his party again – are more likely to prefer a Lib Dem-Labour coalition. 54% would prefer a pact with Labour; 34% with the Conservatives.

Talking of early coalition negotiations, Labour leader Ed Miliband said “I don't think the parties … should be engaging in this. I think what they should be engaging in is how are we going to change the country." The Conservatives have also echoed this sentiment, refusing to be drawn into early coalition talks.

Image: Getty

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