As I said on Monday I’ve just finished reading A Short History of the Liberal party 1900-1988.
One thing that has become clear is how bad coalitions were for the Liberal party. Of course we aren’t the Liberal Party, we’re the Liberal Democrats. Totally different. But a quick recap is sobering:
1915-1922 Coalition under Asquith and Lloyd George saw us go from 270 seats in 1910 election to 36 seats in 1922. Having split into Liberals and Coalitions Liberals.
The 1931 election elected 72 Liberals (split into Liberals and National Liberals). The National Liberals were in coalitions with the Tories (and Labour for some of it), and by the end of the crisis in 1945 we were down to 12 seats.
In case you think it is just a Tory thing, don’t forget in 1974 we had 13 seats, and the Lib-Lab pact cost us 2 seats net. (over 15%!)
Mind you it has to be said that this does knock the idea that coalitions are unstable on the head: both coalitions lasted over the length of a modern parliament. Didn’t do us much good electorally though.