Danny Alexander’s comments to the BBC that, in the event of another hung parliament, the Lib Dems wouldn’t make a confidence and supply deal with either the Tories or Labour, is the clearest statement yet of the leadership’s position. The Clegg circle believes that a second term in government is crucial to consolidating the changes that he made to the party, to making the Liberal Democrats think like a party of government.
Not everyone in the party is so keen on a second coalition. One influential Lib Dem MP told me a few months back that he thought a post 2015 coalition with either party would be a disaster for the Lib Dems. His rationale was that going in with David Cameron again would make the Lib Dems look like an annex of the Tory party. While a deal with Labour would endanger the Liberal Democrat’s Tory-facing seats in just the way that coalition with Labour seems set to cost them a whole bunch of their Labour-facing seats.
But if there is another hung parliament, Nick Clegg will undoubtedly want a second coalition. The questions now are: will either of the main parties be prepared to strike a deal and will the Liberal Democrats’ triple lock approve it?