The Lib Dems are interesting. They have been the protest party for a number of years but have had that role stolen by UKIP.
Since joining the coalition the Lib Dems have struggled to preserve a separate identity. If the government does something right then the senior party in the coalition takes the credit and if things go wrong then the Lib Dems are scapegoats in waiting.
Probably not always fair but the price paid for power gained by negotiation rather that electoral support.
The big issue with the Lib Dems is that they have been brought up on a diet of opposition politics. Protest at everything, campaign continually, oppose all.
This has led to the Lib Dems being known for what they don’t like rather than policies that they do.
It has also created a culture of constantly seeking votes. So rather than setting out principled arguments they often flip and flop on policy if an electoral advantage can be gained. What is confusing is that often leads to different policies on the same issue at different levels of government.
Unfortunately, they have also gained a national and local reputation for being untrustworthy. Tuition fees is the most obvious but there are many more examples.
In my own dealing with political parties the Lib Dems have been the only party that I genuinely could not trust. Other parties I might not have agreed with but I trusted.
This lack of trust is a real issue. When I used to meet politicians from across the country the common, and I’m sure at times unfair, comment from other politicians of all parties was “never trust a Lib Dem.
I expect the Lib Dems in Cambridge to do badly next week and nationally very badly.
It will almost certainly get much worse in the general election in 2015. If they have half the MPs they have now I will be surprised.
Practically, I want Labour to do badly but emotionally Lib Dems failing would give me pleasure. A joke doing the rounds a while ago sums it up.
A Conservative was walking along a cliff top and spotted a Lib Dem and a Labour man tottering on the edge. When asked which one he would push off first he replied, “Labour, business before pleasure”.
(For those who can’t take a joke, I’m not advocating pushing anyone off a cliff, I condemn violence and no actors were hurt in the making of the joke!!!!)