James Forsyth James Forsyth

Ashdown: We’re ‘a left wing party’ but we’ll do a deal with whoever the voters tell us to

A rather irritable Paddy Ashdown has just told Andrew Neil that the Lib Democrats are ‘a left-wing party’ but that their next coalition would be determined by the voters. Ashdown, whose chairing the Lib Dem election campaign, claimed that it simply wasn’t accurate to say that Lib Dems had a preference for who they’d like as their coalition partner. This is, to put it mildly, a dubious statement and Ashdown did feel the need to concede that senior Lib Dems did have ‘private likes and dislikes’. But he claimed that this wouldn’t influence their decision about who to go into government with.

Ashdown’s aggressive approach to this question is designed to stop the Liberal Demmocrats being constantly questioned about who they’d like to be into government with after 2015. But whatever Ashdown does, it is hard to see how he can shut this conversation down. The more a hung parliament looks likely, the more interest they’ll be in who the Lib Dems would prefer to go into government with. Another thing that’ll keep this conversation going is that there are very different views inside the party about who would be the better, post-2015 partner for the Lib Dems.

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