In the light of the recent reversals of political fortune, consolation comes in the form of the philosophical underpinnings of public life, or alcohol. Having exhausted the latter, I was idly trawling the net for inspiration - and unearthed the principles that inspired me to join the Liberal Party thirty years ago. I am indebted to the following link for reminding me as to why they stand the test of time: https://liberalconstitution.wordpress.com/2-2/.
For a document that is thirty-five years old, it sets out very rigorously what politics should be about, with a heady dash of utopianism in the internationalism that was courageous in the context of the Cold War and which should, despite the xenophobia and narrow-mindedness that we appear to be returning to, inform the dialogue of current politicians and opinion-formers. In claiming to lead, we should expect government to demonstrate not merely responsiveness to the nebulosity of "public opinion" but also to the moral and positional superiority that they claim.
It would be naive to expect that there will be any serious attention given to political principles in the inquests that will follow the Liberal and Labour implosions, but without defining what progressive politics is supposed to be about it will be yet another missed opportunity based around electoral calculation rather than creating a force that can root itself in the optimistic camp, rather than leaving the coherence and clarity to a Tory force that defines itself through fear, loathing and a narrow focus on economic and societal conformity.
In some ways, the challenge is going to be greatest for the Labour party in the months to come. It should have succeeded in advancing in England, but its manifest failure comes as a function of arrogance that there is an axiomatic return to the pendulum of politics - a myth and one which should have been laid to rest in the 1990s and 2000s. Labour is not a party that currently has any coherence or collective passion, mirroring the Tories in a cynical but ultimately parodic pursuit of power, and unless there is an injection of vision and values, this will condemn them to further marginalisation.
In a post-industrial world, and a world defined as much by communities (local, virtual and wider) and technology, a politics based on using and celebrating this diversity is probably the only way forward for those of us who are still looking for a balanced, sustainable society. It may not be any of the conventional parties who offer this vision, but as a starting point for community politics, seizing the initiative and the political space for a post-austerity vision, the "left" should not be too proud about remembering that the progressive dilemma is decades-old, and that there have been fewer concise expressions of radicalism and humanity than the old Liberal constitution.
Delete the party references, and there is a basis for, with suitable updating, the formation of a radical politics for the next thirty years: