If it does nothing else the present performance of the coalition disproves the idea that when a parliament is more representative and power is shared the minor party tail wags the major party dog.
As it happens some Conservatives take the view that this is what is actually happening, as was ably put by Chris in a comment to an earlier post:
.... many Conservative activists have had to tolerate the loss of many cherished goals: the abolition of the Human Rights Act, the putting on the backburner of repatriation of powers from the EU, greater use of custodial terms rather than 'community sentencing' (indeed I think Ken Clarke himself is a massive concession of the Lib Dems), lower rates of Capital Gains Tax, reduction in inheritance tax, a firm Trident decision, measures design to aid the family (particularly in the tax system) to name but a few. The fact that Conservatives feel somewhat disempowered to tackle the ECHR head-on is something many will feel particularly sore about.
Equally many of the social liberal wing of the Liberal Democrat party are dismayed by our craven support of the coalition's economic policies and the abandonment of the principles of Beveridge and Keynes.
So if both parties are outraged is it possible that the coalition is getting things about right?
As Nick Clegg has repeatedly pointed out, we did not win the election and he is the deputy, not the prime-minister. Chris's comments highlight some of what our junior partnership has achieved. With a stronger voice the damage social liberals perceive may have been even further ameliorated. As Jackie Ashley wrote in yesterday's Guardian:
We can all imagine what a coalition government with a stronger Lib Dem influence would look like. It would not have charged so hard towards free schools and against local councils; it would not have embarked on the NHS changes; it would have scrapped Trident; it would have been more pro-European. It would have castigated Labour, no doubt, over spending decisions, but it would have begun to reduce the deficit more through taxation than spending cuts. It would, we know, have been tougher on bankers' bonuses and more decisive in splitting the functions of the big banks.
So like John Cole I shall keep the faith. Liberal Democrats still have a vital part to play in British politics and the stronger our voice the less the damage to what as been achieved in the past and the greater the progress to a fairer, stronger and more equal society.