In the past few weeks Nick Clegg has given us incontrovertible evidence of the value of having Liberal Democrats in government. He has supported the Leveson recommendation of a statutory underpinning of press regulation, opposes the "snoopers charter" by which the government would require the communications industry to keep records of all our emails and internet searches and give access to them to over 300 public and semi-public bodies, called for a Royal Commission on drugs to develop an evidence-based policy in place of the present shambles, and , we hope, is about to give unconditional opposition to the proposal for secret courts.
In all of these Clegg is in open disagreement with the prime minister and our Conservative coalition partners. This is as it should be. Coalition does not mean, as Clegg foolishly decreed in the early stages, that we should "own" every government policy. Where we do not agree, and agreement is unlikely in many of these civil liberties issues, we should say so, and, although, because we have only 57 MPs and the Tories have 305, our views cannot always prevail in their entirety, we should make it clear to the public where we stand, and the stance a government with a Liberal Democrat majority would take.
Unfortunately, and in my view short-sightedly, the issues above are not the uppermost in the electorate's mind. For the overwhelming majority "it's the economy , stupid." A pity that the Liberal Democrats in government do not dissociate ourselves from the failed economic policy, and the lies to justify it, with the same candour that they do on civil liberties.
Never the less, thanks be for some mercies.