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By more than two-to-one public now prefers single party to coalition government

By Tim Montgomerie
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Clegg Cameron

Forget for a moment the awful 7% rating that the Lib Dems receive in the latest YouGov/ Sunday Times opinion poll. I don't believe the Lib Dems well fall as low as that at the next election. All of the evidence is that they'll do much, much better in seats that they currently hold and in which they have significant campaigning infrastructure (see Lord Ashcroft's marginal polling and Rob Hayward's reflection on council results). Tory activists regularly tell me that Nick Clegg's party is maintaining a very visible presence in the seats that they hope will ensure they continue to hold the balance of power.

What is most interesting about the latest YouGov poll is that the public attitude towards hung parliaments is very negative. In forming his alliance with David Cameron it was a central objective of Nick Clegg to persuade the British people that coalition governments were a good thing. YouGov's findings (PDF) suggest he's failing and failing badly...
  • 39% say the experience of coalition government has made them MORE negative "about the principle of political parties governing together as coalitions". Only 21% say it has made them more positive.
  • 55% says that "single party government is normally better than coalition, as it provides a strong government that can get things done without having to do deals with other parties". Only 22% agree that "Coalition government is normally better than single party government, as it is more inclusive and makes parties compromise and work together".
  • 46% think it would be bad for Britain if Coalition governments became more common. Only 20% think more hung parliaments would be good for Britain.

If at the end of this parliament the government has succeeded in fixing the economy - or at least looks like it's on its way to doing so - the public might feel warmer towards coalition government... but the early signs are not good. My guess is that the way the Lib Dems have used coalition government to u-turn on promises like tuition fees, have constantly briefed against their coalition partners and have also struggled with collective responsibility will produce a lasting souring towards the idea of politicians 'working together'.

> In her Sunday column for ConservativeHome Nadine Dorries MP accuses Lib Dem MPs of trying to have their Coalition cake and eat it too.


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