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A reality check - most LibDem members prefer a post-2015 coalition with Labour to one with the Conservatives

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By Paul Goodman

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The Independent's Andrew Grice today fleshes out the claim I put earlier this week of David Cameron preferring a second Coalition with the Liberal Democrats to forming a Conservative Government after 2015.  Grice agrees that the Prime Minister woud prefer the comfortable Commons majority of over 50 which a coalition might give him to the narrow one which he could win alone - leaving him exposed to the 20-or-sp hard core of his Tory MP critics.

However, it's worth remembering that the Liberal Democrat may not be up for coalition with Conservatives for a second time.  Steve Richards claimed in the Independent that they won't, on the same day as my Daily Telegraph article.  Drawing especially on the left-leaning Liberal Democrat peers in the Lords, he argued that Nick Clegg's party won't want to become semi-permanently entangled with the Tories - and suggested that a second coalition wouldn't pass the Liberal Democrat triple lock procedure.

Stephen Tall reminded me on Twitter that this consists of the party's MPs, a party conference and its federal policy committee. Today, our columnist writes up a poll on Liberal Democrat Voice which finds that party members would prefer a coalition with Labour after the next election to one with the Conservatives - by the conclusive margin of 55 per to 18 per cent.  One can debate to what degree it is formed by the Liberal Democrats being closer to Labour on many policy issues, and to what extent it reflects that wish not to become a tool of the Tories.

But either way, it's a timely reality check. Stephen writes that his "best guess at this stage, therefore, would be that we are heading for a minority Labour government". He adds that "you should probably ignore my predictions about future Coalitions. In March 2010, I put forward 5 reasons Nick Clegg should rule out a coalition now, with my top reason being 'A coalition is a non-starter, so let’s just rule it out now'."