March 7, 2010 / 5:20 PM / 10 years ago

UK's LibDems: All alliance options open after vote

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s third biggest party said on Sunday it would not rule out power sharing talks with the other two main parties, as polls showed the Conservatives boosting their lead but falling short of an overall majority.

With an election just weeks away, two opinion polls on Sunday showed the main opposition center-right Conservative Party reversing a slump in their ratings.

But despite the Conservatives’ gains, the surveys still point to an inconclusive election result, where no party has an overall governing majority.

Opinion polls have hinted for weeks at the prospect of a so-called hung parliament in which Britain’s third biggest party, the Liberal Democrats, would hold the balance of power.

With the scenario a distinct possibility for the first time since 1974, two senior Liberal Democrats said on Sunday they would consider power sharing or political tie-ups of one kind or another with either ruling Labour or the Conservatives.

The Conservatives are hoping to end 13 years of Labour rule in an election widely expected to be held on May 6.

The party’s Treasury spokesman Vince Cable called for an end to what he termed “short-term tribal politics.”

NOTHING RULED OUT

In an interview with BBC television he said: “We’re not ruling things out. Anything is possible, parties can work together in different ways.

“Whoever we talk to, however the situation evolves, that’s a secondary issue. It’s not for us to choose.”

He said voters expected politicians to be mature and business-like in their approach to other parties, especially in an economic crisis.

“We would act in a financially responsible way, we’ve made that very clear through our policies.”

Cable said a hung parliament would not be bad for the economy, despite the British pound falling to a 10-month low against the dollar and gilts being hit after opinion polls last week showed the Conservative lead narrowing sharply.

Markets think a hung parliament could lead to indecision or even paralysis and believe a Conservative Party is likely to take strong early action to cut Britain’s record budget deficit.

“All evidence from other countries in the western world is that governments comprising of different parties or minority governments have a better record, in practice, of managing economic crises than one party, often with a very narrow popular mandate,” Cable said.

In a separate interview with Sky News, the Liberal Democrats’ leader Nick Clegg also said the party would keep its options open, despite a report in the Sunday Times which cited a source close to him saying he could never work with Labour leader Gordon Brown as head of a minority government.

Asked if he was ruling out the possibility of an alliance with either party, Clegg replied: “If no one has an absolute majority, of course you have to be grown up, and of course people have to start asking themselves how we can provide stable, sane, responsible government.”

Editing by Ralph Boulton

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