"If my defeat tonight is part payment so that no child will spend another night in a detention centre then I accept it, with all my heart."
That was by Alex Cole-Hamilton a Scottish parliamentary candidate (Edinburgh Central).
In England up and down the country hard working councillors have lost their seats - often to people who might not do as good a job. This though was inevitable. People see the Tories in power and think back to Thatcher. I'm too young to remember it but it obviously still resonates. We knew this though going into Coalition, it doesn't change the fact that one year ago we did the correct thing. It may be unpopular, but whatever the make up of the Government it would have been unpopular. If Labour had been in power they would have been taking steps to address the fiscal deficit, whatever they say now in the luxury of opposition. If we hadn't formed a Coalition we'd have been a laughing stock, we had the opportunity to directly influence government policy and not taking it in my opinion would have left us completely unelectable.
Overall I think we are doing a good job. Quite clearly the Tuition Fees debacle was a massive balls up and one we will pay for for a long time (irrespective of whether or not it is a good policy it has lead to the perception that as a party the Liberal Democrats are untrustworthy). Other than that however independent research shows that we are enacting 75% of our manifesto promises. I don't want to big that up too much as that doesn't take into account the scale of the promise, how important it is seen to be and how much of a change it is. Looking at what the government has done though you can definitely see a Lib Dem stamp, and on policies where there hasn't been one there has often been a u-turn or at least a pause & reflect. As Paddy Ashdown said however:
"We believed, perhaps a little over-optimistically that the British people would understand the difference between compromise and betrayal.”
I maintain that the best chances for the future are to keep going and hope that come 2015 people will look at the state of the country and see the good things that the Liberal Democrats achieved that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. (For instance, anyone who has looked at their pay cheque from April and isn't a higher rate tax payer should see an increase).
That may be the national picture, however locally it was better news, we actually gained seats. The candidates I was helping were elected in my two seat ward, one fairly comfortably and the overall situation was: Conservative 29 (-2), Liberal Democrat 29 (+3), Labour 5 (=), Independent/Other 2 (-1). Hopefully this will mean for the first time since I've lived here we wont have a Conservative run council. This will mean the plan to build a bus road through my back garden will be scrapped, a couple of schools will stay open, and the new (unnecessary) council offices wont be built - policies that Labour (I believe) agreed with us on.