(An edited version of the letter below has been sent to the magazine, Total Politics).
One aspect of the Liberal Democrats in recent months which deserves a mention is how the party membership has transformed to be better able to face its future challenges. It is out with the old and in with the new.
Some Lib Dem members became deserters. They lacked the stomach for power, responsibility and unpopularity and, instead of fighting for the party’s values locally and nationally, decided it was easier to head for the hills.
Some Lib Dem members became defectors, mostly to Labour. Obviously these people were never Liberal Democrats in the first place, have been wasting our time and resources, and we are better off saying to them good luck and good riddance.
But these weaklings and cowards have been more than replaced by new and welcome members, attracted by the fact that the Liberal Democrats are now a party which is serious about its politics and is prepared to form working relationships with other parties – as in Scotland, Wales and various councils and now the UK – in order to work together to solve the various problems we face.
The Liberal Democrats are still its own distinct party, of course, and will campaign for its own policies – and the best way to get more of these policies in place is to get more votes, more councillors and more MPs. Running away like a spoilt child will not help towards this.
No longer the party of permanent opposition, the Liberal Democrats have displayed the ability now to get policies in place and make a difference.
The decline in public support is more serious, but with welcome new and strengthened membership and the chance of making changes based on fairness, the future of the party looks good to face the challenges of the years ahead.