Miliband and Cable: Lib Dems seek new coalition

Liberal Democrat activists would prefer a coalition with Labour after the next general election, with Vince Cable taking over from Nick Clegg, two new surveys have found.

Four out of ten Lib Dem councillors back a new coalition with Labour, with just 15% preferring another deal with the Tories, according to a survey for the BBC's Sunday Politics programme.

A separate survey of party activists for the Independent on Sunday found a further 15% of activists would approve a 'confidence and supply' arrangement with Labour.

Cable is now the strong favourite to replace Clegg with 38% of councillors backing him as their next leader.

Left-winger Tim Farron also emerged as a major contender with 29% tipping him for the top.

The survey also found strong support for a more left wing policy agenda.

Eighty-six per cent of councillors supported a new mansion tax, 72% supported scrapping Trident and 70% supported reinstating the 50p tax rate.

The findings will increase speculation about a future leadership challenge from Cable.

Earlier this week, the business secretary was forced to distance himself from his close ally Matthew Oakeshott after he publicly called for the Lib Dem leader to resign.

Cable said Oakeshott's comments were "seriously unhelpful".

The findings will also increase pressure on Clegg to take a more conciliatory approach to Labour.

In a pre-conference interview, Farron said he didn't want to "diss" Ed Miliband who he described as a principled and likeable leader.

Clegg appears to be far less enamoured with the party.

In his opening conference speech yesterday he launched a bitter attack on Labour who he urged to "apologise for being too busy schmoozing the bankers to worry about the risks they were taking with the economy."

It later emerged he had removed a coded criticism of Farron's comment's from the original text of the speech.

Senior allies of the Lib Dem leader are thought to be working on another coalition with the Tories.

One key ally, Jeremy Browne, said this week that there is a "much bigger gap" between the Lib Dems and Labour than there is with the Conservatives.