The 2010 general election demonstrated that the British public will not be converted to Liberalism/Liberal Democracy in a three-week election campaign, even if we are the centre of attention for much of it. I believe this would have been true even if Nick Clegg had been preaching the milk of unsullied social liberalism as exemplified by the teachings of Jo Grimond via Alan Beith and Simon Hughes through to Tim Farron, and totally free from monetarist influences.
What we fail to do is prepare the ground by propagating our principles and policies "all the year round." The founders of AL(D)C realised that,if the media would not publicise these principles and policies then we could do it ourselves through "Focus" leaflets. Sadly, these, and much other election material, have degenerated into lists of local issues on which Liberal Democrats have achieved or hope to achieve success, the deficiencies of other candidates, and past-result bar charts claiming to prove that the Conservatives, Labour or BNP or whoever "can't win here." There is rarely any mention of what Liberal Democracy is really all about other than producing conscientious representatives who care about the locality and work "all the year round."
I am not suggesting that every Focus leaflet should contain a learned treatise on the undoubted virtues of proportional representation by single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies, with perhaps an endnote comparing the Droop and d'Hondt quotas, but simply that every piece of literature we expend so much time, money and effort in producing and delivering should contain at least something about our fundamental values and ideals. If this is done, then a perfectly logical, humane and robustly explained policy of an amnesty for "clean living" illegal immigrants after 10 years may not come as such a shock.
This might also attract to our active numbers some of those other rational altruists who share our ideals.