UK Politics

Vote 2011: Coalition will continue, says Cameron

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPrime Minister David Cameron said the rejection of the alternative vote had been "clear and resounding"

David Cameron has said the coalition will survive, despite huge election losses for the Lib Dems and divisions over changing the voting system.

The Lib Dems lost hundreds of council seats in England, lost support in Wales and Scotland and saw the campaign they backed to introduce the alternative vote system defeated in a referendum.

But the Conservative vote held up well.

The prime minister said, however, that the coalition partnership would stay "strong" and give decisive leadership.

Earlier Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister, said his party was bearing "the brunt of the blame" for coalition spending cuts.

'National interest'

It lost more than 600 councillors in England, along with seats in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

Moves to adopt the alternative vote system for Westminster elections - which the Lib Dems backed - were also overwhelmingly rejected in a UK-wide referendum.

This followed a bitter campaign which saw several rows between leading Tories and Lib Dems.

Mr Clegg has faced calls from defeated senior councillors to quit as Lib Dem leader and break up the coalition but these were rejected by senior Lib Dem cabinet colleagues.

Mr Cameron - whose party gained seats at the expense of the Lib Dems in the south of England - went out of his way to praise the efforts of Lib Dems.

He said: "These two parties - Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - with different histories and traditions and sometimes quite different views, are working together in the national interest to sort out the long-term problems we face, whether it's the budget deficit, or the need to improve our schools and our hospitals or reform welfare.

'Labour's mess'

"That's what we're committed to do, and I am absolutely committed to make the coalition government, which I believe is good for Britain, work for the full five years of this term."

He paid tribute to the Liberal Democrats, saying the work they do in the coalition would continue for the full five years until the next general election.

Mr Cameron added: "The Conservative vote share has held up and I think that's because Conservative councils and councillors have done a good job up and down the country providing quality services but keeping their costs and their tax bills under control.

"And I also think we fought a strong campaign explaining why we need to take difficult decisions to sort out the mess we inherited from Labour."

Mr Clegg told the BBC the Lib Dems were facing "the brunt of the blame" for coalition spending cuts, adding that, for some voters, they were bringing out "memories of things under Thatcher".

But he promised to "redouble our efforts" and "get up and dust ourselves down".