I thought it might be interesting/instructive/soothing to document the ongoing and continual disintegration of the UK's Liberal Democrat party who in 2010 achieved their high water mark as a political party by finally getting a liberal party into government (albeit as the junior party in a coalition) for the first time since the 1920s. The Liberal Democrats were once thought to be a largely leftist political party concerned with issues like reducing wealth inequality, free education, advancing social rights and improving the constitutional mess that centuries of gradual accumulation has left us with. Unfortunately almost all of those political goals have turned to ashes since the formation of the Coalition government and instead the party has been alternately outmanoeuvred, craven or in some cases seemingly not even that interested in their own formerly professed principles. First there was the almost too perfect to be believed tuition fees reversal where after campaigning on wanting to abolish fees (and running a now infamous advert about how there would be 'no more broken promises' which even referenced Labour's broken promise on fees) the Lib Dems voted to raise them. Since a large part of the Lib Dem vote came from idealistic students drawn to their policies you can imagine how well this went down. Tuition fees was soon followed by the debacle of the Alternative Vote referendum. The Lib Dems have long campaigned for voting system reform both for self interested reasons and, if we can credit them that much, because it aligned with their general policy stances on good governance and fairness. The UK currently has a system of First Past the Post voting for parliament which distorts the national vote so that the make up of parliament is very unlikely to look anything like the actual distribution of votes. The current system favours the largest parties and those with a moderately geographically concentrated vote like Labour (Northern cities) and the Tories (The shires). So of course most of labour and the Tories wholeheartedly led a combined effort to defeat the referendum while the tuition fees weakened Clegg mostly hid from view. The real failure here was in agreeing to have the technical AV issue decided by referendum during the coalition negotiations. The tories also wanted to push through some voting system changes but got the lib dems to agree that their changes should be voted through by parliament. An embarrassing failure of negotiation and persuasive power. Clegg then tried to pin his hopes on the far less important Hose of Lords reform which he could at least see voted through parliament, only by this time the backbench Tories were openly laughing at them and decided to scupper his bill by not voting for it despite it having Cameron's backing. Cleg belatedly threw a tantrum and scuppered some of the remaining tory constitutional changes in revenge but it's all a bit late. The sum total of the promises achieved from the 2010 Lib Dem election manifesto is going to be only the worst one, and the one that the tories wanted anyway - a tax cut for everyone. The series of policy failures and broken promises has plunged the Lib Dem ratings from their election performance of 23% vote share to their current average of around 10%. Not a particularly healthy showing for a party that has historically tended to under perform it's polling in general elections as nervous voters switch to the two bigger parties. The Lib Dem party leader and current Deputy Prime minister Nick Clegg has been particularly badly hit and now has dire approval ratings (somewhere around -40% net). And now, to pile further miserable corpses onto this already groaning pile, it turns out that the Lib Dems also have something of a scandal problem. There were some slight stirrings of this early in the coalition when one of the Lib Dem cabinet appointments had to to resign from government (but not parliament) after he was found to have fiddled his expenses to conceal the fact that he was gay. Most MPs were pretty understanding about it at the time but perhaps it was just an early sign of the rot within. One of the biggest figures on the left of the party, Chris Huhne, had to stand down from parliament and the cabinet when he finally confessed that he had lied to the police about who was driving his car when it was caught speeding. There is now an ongoing trial over whether he bullied his wife into taking the points or not but whatever the finer details his career is toast. And now in the last week we have a fresh scandal over Lord Rennard. While he might appear to be a somewhat background figure in the party ( he rarely gives interviews) he is well known in political circles as the party's campaign mastermind. Rennard is a Karl Rove-esque figure who has led the lib dems to hard won by-election victory after victory and is feared for his skills across the political spectrum. Well until last week when it was revealed that he's been molesting female party workers for years and worse seemingly half of the senior lib-dem leadership, including Clegg, knew about it and did what amounted to absolutely nothing. So yeah. Ineffective, duplicitous and largely a bunch of shits. That's how you can end up really regretting your vote in only three years.