There is a piece in The Times this morning suggesting that Lib Dem councillors would resist any move by their Parliamentary colleagues to sustain a Cameron Government in the event of a hung Parliament. An accompanying piece mentions a ComRes poll of Lib Dem councillors showing twice as many of them would favour sustaining a Labour rather than a Conservative Government
Yet when it comes to making their own decisions about coalition the Lib Dem councillors more often side with the Conservatives than with Labour. Measuring it is a bit messy as you sometimes have a minority administration which is allowed to proceed – for instance with getting its budget voted through, perhaps with some concessions. Some coalitions are all-party or involve independents or are Lab/Con coalitions uniting against the Yellow Peril.
But I have counted 17 councils where there are Conservatives and Lib Dems in the administration and Labour in opposition. (North East Lincolnshire, Warrington, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Birmingham, Leeds, St Helens, Allerdale, Babergh, Cannock Chase, Carlisle, Ipswich, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders, Newport.)
On the other hand I can only spot seven councils where the administration consists of (or includes) a Lib/Lab Pact – with the Conservatives in opposition. (Waltham Forest, Kirklees, Wirral, Broxtowe, Colchester, East Renfrewshire, Highland – although in the case of Highland we don't have any councillors so it may not be a valid example.)
All rather different to when as leader William Hague wryly observed that Lib Dem councillors invariably acted as a "Labour saving device." Part of the explanation for the change could be that these days in a hung council it is more often that the Conservatives are the largest single party. But I doubt that is the whole explanation. I suspect there has also been some Lib Dem repositioning.