There was a period, around this time last year, when all was sunny and optimistic in the yellow-tinged world of the Liberal Democrats.
It coincided with the election of Mike Thornton in the Eastleigh by-election. For those who don’t recall, this was brought on by the conviction and imprisonment of one-time leadership candidate Chris Huhne. It also coincided with the coming to prominence of the allegations of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard — which is still going on, by the way. It was also a target seat for the Conservatives, who dearly needed a boost.
The Lib Dems poured everything — people, money — into the seat, and in the end held onto it, whilst the Tories fell to third place behind UKIP. And all of a sudden, they could do it. They could survive May 2015 because clearly their vote hasn’t disapparated like everyone supposed.
Which is a profound misreading of the situation.