During the election campaign Liberal Democrat policies were reduced to a mantra of: fair taxes, a fair chance for your children, a fair deal in politics and a fair future in a greener Britain. Like motherhood and apple pie it is difficult to oppose any of these, but the aspirations were not distinctly different to those of the other parties and, when exposed to critical examination were found to contain little meat, or meat of dubious quality (eg the £700 tax cut).
In education the pupil premium was and is a good idea, but is was not and is not clear who is going to get it. We proposed reducing SATS, slimming down the national curriculum, and phasing out university tuition fees but did not have the courage to propose abolishing any of them. Nothing to set the educational world on fire.
In the reform of politics we stressed proportional representation but failed to hammer away that it should be by STV, and agreed with the Tories both on the reduction of the number of MPs (hardly compatible with improving the quality of our democracy, and making STV more difficult to operate)and in the questionable policy to allow groups of special interest campaigners to attempt to demand the recall of any MP who upset their prejudices.
Local income tax, reform of company law to give workers rights similar to shareholders, positive engagement in the European Union and other great Liberal causes (three cheers for a land tax) seemed strangely absent. As one commentator put it, once the media and electorate started to listen to us, the Liberal Democrats didn't seem to have much to say.