25/07/2013 07:36 BST | Updated 25/07/2013 07:40 BST

Lib Dem Activists Want Alliance With Labour After 2015

Labour leader Ed Miliband (left) with Business Secretary Vince Cable (right) at an event in London to promote the 'YES' campaign for the alternative voting system referendum.
Labour leader Ed Miliband (left) with Business Secretary Vince Cable (right) at an event in London to promote the 'YES' campaign for the alternative voting system referendum.

Lib Dem activists would overwhelmingly prefer to govern in alliance Labour than see their coalition with the Conservatives continue after 2015, a poll has found.

The survey by the Lib Dem Voice website published on Thursday showed that 55% of party members asked wanted to see some form of arrangement with Labour: either a formal coalition (40%) or a 'supply and confidence' arrangement (15%).

By comparison just 18% wanted the party to continue to with some form of deal with the Tories. Only 13% supported a second coalition government and 5% wanted a 'supply and confidence' deal.

Lib Dem members were asked their opinion based on the assumption the party would not be able to form a majority or minority government on its own.

Senior Lib Dems, including business secretary Vince Cable, have frequently been accused of flirting with the Labour leadership in anticipation of a coalition deal post-2015.

It is highly unlikely that Ed Miliband would agree to serve in a coalition with the Lib Dems if Nick Clegg remained leader of the party - and Cable is often touted as the most likely replacement.

However Stephen Tall, the editor of Lib Dem Voice, said he believed the 2015 general election would in the end produce a minority government.

"Personally, I’m very doubtful the Lib Dems will form a coalition with either party. I do not think the party will approve a second full coalition with the Conservatives: the party’s ‘triple lock’ — which means any deal must be approved by large majorities by each of the parliamentary party, the elected Federal Executive and a special conference — will, almost certainly, prevent it," he wrote on the site.

"And while the results in our poll suggest the party would be willing to sign up to a coalition with Labour next time around, it seems very doubtful Labour will be prepared to offer the party the kind of deal that will make it acceptable. Too much bile has been spilled, too many bridges burned."

As the general election approaches both Clegg and David Cameron have come under pressure from within their party to differentiate themselves from each other.

Last week the prime minister was encouraged by senior Tory MPs to break the coalition well in advance of the election.

Graham Brady, the chairman of the powerful backbench Tory 1922 committee told the Daily Telegraph: "It makes sense to plan an exit well in advance of a 2015 election. We need to convey a clear, separate identity and a separate set of aspirations from the Liberal Democrats.

"You can’t get those messages across in three weeks or even three months. You need a sustained period of time to ensure voters are comfortable with what you are saying — at least six months."

However Clegg has repeatedly insisted that his party will not "pull the plug" on the coalition before the election.