Britain has now enjoyed one year of unalloyed Coalition government, although you would be forgiven for thinking that the Liberal Democrats have been doing nothing more than doing their patriotic bit in enabling the Conservatives to return to their natural home of government. That is if you accept the somewhat puerile and at times totally myopic view of the Tory press and the cheerleaders for the Coalition within the Liberal blog community. There are moments when I wonder whether the general experience and perception of the rest of the population is so completely alien to these people that an attempt to engage with them is doomed to futility - then I confirm my suspicion that it is.
The distorted electoral system, and the way in which Labour appeared to have a death-wish to the end, ensured that the Tories won a superb 36% share of those who bothered to turn out. The arithmetic was always against a LIb - Lab deal, given the need for a Nationalist back-up, and the idiotic tribalism of the same neaderthal pillocks who are the backbone of Labour's "No" campaign. At the time the Coalition looked to be necessity, born of desperation and the vile misrepresenation of popular opinion through a discredited electoral system.
Since then, there seems to have been enthusiasm for the Coalition itself expressed by Clegg and Alexander, while other Liberal Democrat ministers have tended to be much more circumspect.
This weekend I read a great deal of grumbling from the Orange Book/rightist fraternity that Chris Huhne had joined the reform camp and made the perfectly-reasonable observation that for most of the 20th century the electoral system favoured the Tories. Apparently this is akin to a leadership bid (if only) as it undermines the credibility of the Coalition. Personally, I can't see it, as the Coalition only works as a partnership of fundamentally-opposed parties.
Either Clegg's apologists are more disingenuous than they appear to be, and are preparing to be assimilated into the Tory party before the next election, or they forget that the role of leading Liberal Democrats is to protect and promote their own party. Rolling over and having one's tummy tickled may be cute at dog shows, but it is not part of adult politics. Just because the Liberal Democrats are supping with the devil doesn't mean that they have to ask for his favourite recipes.
The Liberal Democrats may or may not be doomed as an electoral force - however the ideas, policies and values that propelled Liberals to continue their fight will not disappear overnight. I've defined myself as libertarian left for 26 years, and there are many others in the same boat. Clegg is transient, and will be all the more so if he allows himself to become part of the Tory conspiracy.