The Deputy Prime Minister told a BBC documentary that Labour is realising it might have to share power with others, and that the Liberal Democrats would be open to a coalition if Labour changed its attitude to public spending. The programme, 'Nick Clegg: The Liberal Who Came To Power', will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 8pm tonight.
Nick Williams, FleishmanHillard head of public affairs and a former adviser to the Labour Party, said: "Given the current state of the opinion polls this is a clear power play from Nick Clegg to ensure the Lib Dems are in an influential position whatever the outcome of the general election. Clegg has always been a master of realpolitik and he is planning accordingly."
Sean Worth of Quiller Consultants, a special adviser to the Prime Minister until last year, added that Clegg was anxious not to close off any options. "He’s got to appeal to both sides – otherwise the Lib Dems will be completely wiped out," he said.
However, the move was unlikely to play well with the public, he added: "It’s way too early to be talking about a potential coalition and the public will react badly. The polling suggests people want a majority government. You can’t campaign for a coalition, you have to campaign for a win."
Labour leader Ed Miliband has responded that he is not interested in discussing the possibility of a coalition and is aiming for a majority Labour government.