Good and bad reasons not to support the Lib/Dems
Their attitude to the EU referendum result has come very close to sticking up two fingers at the British electorate and even some people who voted Remain but accept the majority decision - including me - find he attitude of those who seem determined to try to overturn the result to be unhelpful and damaging.
At a local level, particularly where they are strong, Lib/Dem tactics are often, shall we say, controversial. There are considerable swathes of the country where if you ask all the other parties, "which of your opponents use the dirtiest tactics" they will reply in unison "The Lib/Dems." (In Cumbria that would certainly be the answer given by my Conservative colleagues in South Lakes and when I lived in St Albans this was the answer which would have been given by all the other parties there and in much of the rest of the East of England.
Lib/Dems in local government often have a history of being brilliant at campaigning and opposition but utterly hopeless at actually running things. When I have been a member of hung councils I have often found it easier to work with the grown-up wing of the Labour party than with Lib/Dems because the former understood the concept of keeping their word.
But if there are good reasons not to vote for the Lib/Dems there are also bad reasons.
I was pleasantly surprised by how often during the coalition period Lib/Dem MPs put the national interest above their own.
Their biggest problem at this period was, of course, the broken promise on student tuition fees, and I can certainly understand the view of those who were very angry about that broken promise, but not those who moved their votes for this reason from the Lib/Dems to the Labour party which has an even worse record of broken promises on that very issue.
The Labour party's campaign of personal abuse against Nick Clegg during the 2015 general election included some of the most hypocritical political material I have ever seen in my life, because they vilified him for promising to vote against increases in student fees and then voting for them - exactly the same promise which the Labour party had made during the 2001 general election and broke afterwards. That wasn't the first or last broken Labour promise to students either - they had introduced tuition fees in the first place two months after winning the 1997 election during which Tony Blair had promised that Labour "has no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education."
An article this week on the Reactions website seeking to explain why the Lib/Dems appear to have disappeared from the national stage had me holding my head in disbelief. There are many good reasons not to vote Lib/Dem but their being responsible, reasonable and moderate and therefore somehow boring does not strike me as one of them.
However, Mattie Brignal argues that "The line dividing celebrity culture and politics is becoming increasingly blurred."
Consequently "The expectation for entertainment has spilled over into politics" and "disproportionate coverage is given to those who entertain by being eccentric and shocking in their manner, appearance and views because this is what commands viewers’ attention. This trend has made outrageous ‘authenticity’ the flavour of the week."
Brignal argues that Lib/Dem leader Sir Vince Cable
"is moderate, avuncular and therefore considered boring. As such it’s hard for him to gain traction in a media environment which caters to a public that increasingly expects to be shocked and entertained as well as informed. Policy has given way to personality and sensible centrism is a hard sell."
God help the country if this explanation for the Lib/Dems' lacklustre performance in the polls is right.
Britain needs a credible opposition and I can no longer see the Labour party providing one. It would be a great shame if the Lib/Dems were deprived of the chance to do so for such a ridiculous reason.