We should consider Tory coalition, says Laws

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Indy Politics

A senior Liberal Democrat has defied Sir Menzies Campbell by calling on the party to consider a coalition with the Tories in the event of a hung parliament.

The Liberal Democrat leader does not want his party's conference in Brighton, which opens tomorrow, to be overshadowed by speculation about what it would do if no party wins an overall majority at the next general election.

But David Laws, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on children, schools and families, said in an interview to be broadcast today that it would be "madness" not to talk to the Tories if they were the largest party after the next election. Calling for his party to be equally open-minded about a coalition with Labour and the Tories, he told BBC News 24's Straight Talk programme: "We would have to take into account firstly the judgement of the electorate because any party that didn't respect what the electorate were saying would be potty and would be in a very dangerous position."

Mr Laws declined to agree with a statement by Sir Menzies that it would be a "deal breaker" if another party refused to bring in proportional representation.

Some Liberal Democrat MPs want Sir Menzies to correct the impression he gave earlier this year that he would only prop up a minority Labour government and would not consider a pact with the Tories. Mr Laws is the second Liberal Democrat MP to raise the prospect of a deal with the Conservatives. Mark Oaten, the party's former home affairs spokesman, has urged the party to be more open-minded.

One ally of Sir Menzies said last night: "There is no point in speculating about a hung parliament. It's a dead end for us politically."

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