Labour lead by two points in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll, conducted over the past weekend. Though Ed Miliband’s party are static on 32 per cent, the Conservatives are up three points to 30 per cent, bringing the Labour margin down from five points to the narrower advantage we have seen in recent weeks. It is also the first time in five weeks that the combined vote share of the two parties has exceeded 60 per cent.
The Liberal Democrats are unchanged at 7 per cent, UKIP down two points at 16 per cent, the Greens down one at 6 per cent and the SNP remain at 5 per cent.
Last week I asked voters whether they expected the result of the election to be a Conservative government, a Labour government, or a coalition between either party and the Liberal Democrats. People were neatly divided between the four possible outcomes: one quarter expected a Tory victory, one quarter a Labour win, and another quarter a coalition involving the Lib Dems – which divided evenly over whether it would be Conservative- or Labour-led. (I think I am with the 21 per cent who said they didn’t know what to expect).
But it is quite possible, of course, that neither of the largest parties will have enough seats to form a government, even when combined with the remaining Lib Dems. If that is the case, one option is for Cameron or Miliband to form a minority government, and another is for them to speak to one or more of the smaller parties. If the latter, which parties would people most (and least) like to see in a coalition government?
The party that the voters would most like to see in a coalition is the Greens, with 52 per cent saying they would be happy and 42 per cent unhappy to see them in government. This makes them a more popular choice than the Lib Dems, over whom voters were exactly divided (48 per cent happy, 48 per cent unhappy). Labour voters (62 per cent) were more enthusiastic than Tories (42 per cent) about the prospect of the Greens in government, but they were equally happy (52 per cent and 51 per cent) for the Lib Dems to be part of a coalition.
A majority of voters (55 per cent) was unhappy at the idea of UKIP joining a coalition government. Conservative voters (39 per cent) were more likely to be happy with the idea than Labour and Lib Dem voters (25 per cent) – but a majority of Tories (58 per cent) said they would be unhappy to see UKIP in government, including 39 per cent saying they would be very unhappy. Indeed, more Conservative voters said they would be happy to see the Greens (42 per cent) or the Lib Dems (52 per cent) in a coalition than Nigel Farage’s party. Overall 36 per cent said they would be very unhappy to see UKIP in government – the highest score on that measure for any party other than Sinn Fein (48 per cent).
Six in ten voters said they would be unhappy to see the Scottish National Party in a coalition government, including 77 per cent of Tories and 53 per cent of Labour voters. Nearly one third (32 per cent) of all voters said they would be “very unhappy” to see the SNP as part of a coalition – more than said the same of the DUP, the SDLP or Plaid Cymru. Though only 37 per cent of voters said they would be happy to see the Welsh nationalists in government, their general inoffensiveness gave them the third highest “net happiness” score, behind the Greens and the Lib Dems.
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