No mood in Lib Dems for another coalition, Lord Steel says

Media caption,
Lord Steel: "I just detect that there's a general feeling that we need to recharge our batteries and recharge our values"

Former Liberal leader Lord Steel has said he doubts Liberal Democrat members will want to be part of a coalition after May's general election.

He told the BBC "the most" Lib Dems would accept in another hung parliament is a confidence and supply deal - where policies are agreed on a case-by-case basis, rather than a formal coalition.

There was a "feeling" the party needed to "recharge our values", he said.

Lord Steel added: "Association with another party is not the way to do it."

With polls predicting no clear winner at May's general election, the Liberal Democrats could be called upon to shore up a Conservative or Labour-led government, says BBC parliamentary reporter Rebecca Keating.

Lord Steel told the BBC's parliamentary programme The Week in Parliament: "I'm pretty certain that the mood in the party will be to say the very most we would accept would be confidence and supply.

"I just detect that there's a general feeling that we need to recharge our batteries and recharge our values and that association with another party is not the way to do it."

Minority government

Lord Steel, who was leader of the Liberal Party until it merged with the Social Democratic Party to form the Lib Dems in 1988, said he did not think there would be a mood in the party to go into another coalition with either the Conservatives or Labour.

He said: "What's more, I think in the other two parties if you examine what's happened a lot of David Cameron's Tories want a Tory-only government, even if it's a minority one, and similarly on the Labour side.

"So I suspect if you have to look into the crystal ball that we're going to get a minority government which will have a multitude of minorities in the parliament, which is something new, and they'll be able to play one off against the other.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't succeed."

Asked about the possibility of a change of leadership in the party after the poll, Lord Steel said: "We mustn't start pushing Nick Clegg out the window until we've actually had the election."

Mr Clegg, when asked earlier this week if he would miss being deputy prime minister, said that he "very much hoped the Liberal Democrats would be back in government".

The Scottish Liberal Democrats spring conference is currently taking place in Aberdeen.

Addressing the conference on Friday, Mr Clegg also said his party "will do so much better than anyone thinks" at the general election.

"It won't be easy, but winning shouldn't be," he added.

Willie Rennie, who leads the Lib Dems in Scotland, said the party should be "seeking alliances" in the event of a hung Parliament if it helps see their policies put into place.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: "We need to stay the course, not the swings from left to right but actually keeping the course, the steady course that we've pursued in the last few years."

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