Another Coalition? 1-in-5 of the public likes the idea, but is divided between Lib-Lab and Lib-Con pact

Nick Clegg sparked a flurry of Coalition speculation this week, with his (relatively) warm words towards Labour on a BBC Radio 4 documentary this week. Everyone’s had their say – but what does the public think? YouGov has polled them to ask…

The first question asked which option folk would like to see after the next general election…

yougov coalition feb 2014

So a Labour majority government is the preference of most (31%), narrowly ahead of a Tory majority government (29%). A coalition government involving the Lib Dems would be favoured by 19% – a Lib-Lab pact (10%) noses a Lib-Con pact (9%).

But what if majority government isn’t on the table – what then…?

yougov coalition feb 2014 - 2

The British public is pretty evenly split, with a Lib-Lab coalition (43%) just preferred to a Lib-Con coalition (38%).

And that, of course, is the age-old problem for the Lib Dems when contemplating any coalition: though the idea of the party being in government continues to attract a decent slice of the population, the moment we pick Labour ahead of the Tories or the Tories ahead of Labour that slice is sliced again.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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20 Comments

  • Paul In Twickenham 21st Feb '14 - 8:03am

    So essentially there has been no change since last May. The numbers in all categories have barely shifted – the deltas looks like noise. Whither the differentiation strategy?

    The most interesting news about the next GE in the last 24 hours seems to me to be Mr. Osborne’s admission (or repetition of Carney’s remarks) that the “recovery” is an unbalanced, consumer-driven, London-centric affair. He indicated that this perspective will underpin the upcoming budget – action to drive up exports and reduce the national debt. I expect a “no holds barred” Conservative budget with more than one eye on the elections.

  • Peter Watson 21st Feb '14 - 8:10am

    Looking at the unweighted figures for voting intention, the effect of weighting is striking. The raw figures show a 12% Labour lead and Lib Dems on 7.5%, half that of UKIP.
    Surely the solution to the “age-old problem” is to demonstrate independence when in a coalition with any party. Too often the Lib Dem leadership has given the impression that Lib Dems and Conservatives are of one mind within this coalition, and that mind is a Tory one.

  • Mr Tall provides a helpful link to the data and I would encourage everyone to look at what YouGov have published in full rather than the snippet highlighted .
    If I understand the data correctly, on the question of Preference between Con and Lab partners in coalition there is a significantly different view amongst people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 from the equally divided view in the headline to Stephen Tall’s spin.

    Am I misreading the data, Stephen?

  • Peter Davies 21st Feb '14 - 9:35am

    An interesting side-note is that nobody who wants a majority Labour government says they intend to vote Lib Dem. What they tell the pollsters is massively different from what they actually do in Lib Dem / Tory marginals.

  • A Social Liberal 21st Feb '14 - 10:19am

    Why hasn’t the most obvious observation been made – 4 out of 5 said they did not want a coalition?

  • @ Peter Davies – Or perhaps what it tells the pollsters is that they will not be voting for the Lib Dems in Lib Dem/Tory marginals any more. Perhaps this could be a key part of the “The Cleggacy.” 🙁

  • Am I right? The raw numbers “today” show a preference for a Con-LibDem coalition among LibDems, which is reversed when 2010 votes are taken into account.

  • So the current Lib/Con coalition is the preferred first choice of 9% of the electorate. Isn’t that quite a damning verdict on the last 4 years?

  • How about a pre-election coalition pact? Two parties could go to the general elections as a coalition, like Liberal Party and National Party in Australia. They wouldn’t compete against the other in the same constituencies, and if they got a majority, they would form a coalition after the election.
    Now, the Liberal Democrats could ask bids from both Conservatives and Labour of such a pact. In how many / which constituencies would the other coalition partner give Lib Dems a free ride, and to which Lib Dem objectives would they bind themselves in the next coalition program…

  • @Ed: Yes, you are. But remember that these are different groups of people; the people to whom the current coalition is unacceptable have already stopped voting for the party. It’s not surprising that Con-Lib preferrers are the majority among the remaining voters.

  • @Jack: Yes, that was my conclusion as well.

  • peter tyzack 21st Feb '14 - 5:14pm

    but our Party strategy must be to set out our stall for a Liberal Democrat majority Govt, all this talk of hypotheticals plays into their agenda and weakens our claim to be a party of Govt. If we keep talking about propping up one of the other parties that will undermine the support for us as a distinct and separate party. L:et others have this conversation, let us concentrate on going for gold, whatever the realism of our chances.

  • paul barker 21st Feb '14 - 6:59pm

    The 1st point to bear in mind is that answering a survey or even voting in an election you dont beleive is very important is very different from voting for the next Government. Thats why mid-term polls & local or European elections are so poor as predictors of General Elections.
    The most striking thing about this survey is that 31% claim to want a Labour Goverment, that a whole 1% more than voted for one in 2010. That puts Labours (declining) poll lead in perspective.

  • @Marj ” How about a pre-election coalition pact? ………… the Liberal Democrats could ask bids from both Conservatives and Labour of such a pact”

    That sounds like selling our soul to the devil. Your idea of going with the highest bidder doesn’t sound like a principled Liberal speaking to me.

  • A Social Liberal 21st Feb '14 - 7:49pm

    Joe Otten

    The title of the piece suggests 1 in 5 are in favour, therefore logic dictates that 4 out of 5 are not.

  • I agree with peter tyzack 21st Feb ’14 – 5:14pm
    but our Party strategy must be to set out our stall for a Liberal Democrat majority Govt, all this talk of hypotheticals plays into their agenda and weakens our claim to be a party of Govt.

  • After all the victories of 1973 , the “nearly” result of Feb 1974 had been won on the unpopularity of the Heath Conservative Government. Propping up such a Conservative Government would have been the exact opposite of what most of our supporters had voted for.
    Anyhow, if Thorpe had done a Clegg and become a minister the Norman Scott information would probably have been handed over to the media even earlier than it was.
    It has to be remembered just how much social attitudes have changed since 1974, when gay men were treated very differently especially in the tabloids.

    So I am not sure that it is useful to make comparisons with Feb 1974.
    Incidentally, it was a great year here. It was the first time we had come second in a parliamentary election in Kingston since the foundation of the Labour Party. It was an earthquake in local politics which lead eventually to our victories on Kingston Council in the 1980s and 1990s when we elected two Liberal Democrat MPs and had a majority on the council. Things have declined since that high point but with excellent candidates like Robin Meltzer we can fight back ( just so long as those at the top of the party do not keep letting us down).

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