Hung parliament – 63% of Lib Dem members back equidistance from Labour and Tories

by Stephen Tall on February 12, 2010

Ah, the question the media loves, and Lib Dems hate: just who would the party back if there were a hung parliament?

Now we’ve asked this question before in an attempt to get the media to understand the position of Lib Dem members (despite the wilful attempts of BBC2’s The Daily Politics to mislead viewers with flawed polls). But we’re going to try it again to see if this time the media will listen to what LDV’s sample of Lib Dem members actually think about what the party should do in the event of a hung parliament.

Some 200 members of LDV’s private discussion forum (open to all Lib Dem members) answered the following question:

If the result of the next general election is that the Lib Dems hold the balance of power in a hung parliament, what do you think should be the party’s response if Labour/Conservatives offer some form of deal which satisfies at least some of the party’s manifesto commitments, including the promise of a referendum on electoral reform?

And here’s what they said:

  • 23% – Steer well clear of any form of negotiations or coalition with Labour or Conservatives
  • 6% – Be ready to negotiate only with Labour on that basis
  • 5% – Be ready to negotiate only with the Conservatives on that basis
  • 63% – Be equally ready to negotiate with either Labour or the Conservatives on that basis
  • 3% – Don’t know / No opinion

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results are almost identical to the results we received the last time LDV asked the hung parliament question – back in September, 61% of party members who responded said the party should be ready to negotiate equally with either Labour or Tories so long as key elements of the party manifesto were satisfied. Today the figure is 63%.

Just 11% of party members believe the party should enter into any form of negotiations exclusively with only one of the two other main parties – exactly the same proportion as in September – while almost one-quarter continue to believe we should avoid both of them like the plague.

It’s a clear message: the ball is not in the Lib Dems’ court in the event of a hung parliament – it is up to Labour and the Tories to say clearly where they are prepared to compromise if they want to secure Lib Dem support in the event of a hung parliament.

Perhaps the media will now start asking that question of Gordon Brown and David Cameron as much as they ask the hung parliament question of Nick Clegg?