by Stephen Tall on September 15, 2013
Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 700 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
76% of Lib Dem members predict another hung parliament in 2015
What do you believe is the likeliest outcome of the next general election?
8% – A Conservative minority government
6% – An overall majority for the Conservatives
2% – A Conservative-led coalition with parties other than Labour or the Lib Dems
14% – A Conservative-Lib Dem coalition
25% – A Labour-Lib Dem coalition
3% – A Labour-led coalition with parties other than the Conservatives or the Lib Dems
24% – A minority Labour government
7% – An overall majority for Labour
0% – A “grand coalition” between Labour and Conservatives
11% – Don’t know
As I’ve done before, I deliberately offered multiple, mirroring choices to capture the full span of opinion on this. Let’s now group the data together to help us understand what it’s saying:
So that’s what our sample of Lib Dem members think will happen. Now let’s find out what we want to happen if there’s another hung parliament…
By 54% to 21%, Lib Dem members prefer post-2015 alliance with Labour to continuing pact with Tories
Assuming the Lib Dems do not form a majority/minority government after the next election, which would be your most preferred outcome:
3% – A Labour majority government with the Lib Dems in opposition
7% – A minority Labour government with the Lib Dems in opposition
15% – A Labour-Lib Dem ‘confidence and supply’ agreement (ie, no coalition deal so free to vote on an issue-by-issue basis, but agreeing not to bring down the government or vote against its Budget)
39% – A Labour-Lib Dem coalition (if stable majority will result and programme for government can be agreed)
15% – A second Conservative-Lib Dem coalition (if stable majority will result and programme for government can be agreed)
6% – A Conservative-Lib Dem ‘confidence and supply’ agreement (ie, no coalition deal so free to vote on an issue-by-issue basis, but agreeing not to bring down the government or vote against its Budget)
3% – A minority Conservative government with the Lib Dems in opposition
2% – A Conservative majority with the Lib Dems in opposition
3% – Other
5% – Don’t know
Again, let’s group some of these individual choices together:
5 quick points:
1) Lib Dems want to be in government: 75% of party members are committed to being in government. However, we don’t know yet (can’t know) if those 3-in-4 members are equally happy for the party to be in coalition irrespective of whether it’s Labour or the Conservatives who are our partners.
2) Lib Dems prefer Labour as our partners by 2:1: you can interpret this in a couple of different ways (not mutually exclusive). Perhaps Lib Dems are more comfortable with a centre-left coalition. Or perhaps Lib Dems feel the current coalition with the Conservatives has more or less run its course. Or perhaps Lib Dems want to assert our equidistance, showing to the public we’re equally comfortable working with either Tories but also Labour.
3) Coalition is preferred to confidence and supply by 5:2: I’ve made no secret that I’m no fan of ‘confidence and supply’, by which the Lib Dems would lend support to either Labour or the Tories on budget and confidence motions but otherwise vote on an issue-by-issue basis. It seems to me a way of getting all the pain of coalition with little of the gain of being in government.
4) This is at least as big an issue for Labour and the Tories as for the Lib Dems: as Mark Pack points out here, there is a big choice journalists need to put to David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the lead-up to the 2015 general election: “do you want minority government or coalition if there is a hung Parliament?”
5) “More lib Dem MPs means more Lib Dem policies”: we’ve used this mantra for years, but it is never more true than during a hung parliament. It will make a huge difference not only to our party, but also to the next government, if the Lib Dems retain our 57 MPs in 2015 (and perhaps even add to them). If the number falls to 30 or 40 then those MPs will still fight the liberal fight: but their position will be significantly weaker when it comes to negotiating – whether we’re in coalition or not.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.