The last 4 years have been pretty tough ones for the Lib Dems (and the years immediately preceding them and following Charles Kennedy's departure weren't exactly awesome times if you take out the two months of Cleggmania).
We are not liked. Hated by the left, mocked by the centrists and, as ever, despised by the right. Nick Clegg acted as the lightening rod for appreciation during the 2010 general election and continued his lightening rod role into far less fun times when he experienced hanging in effigy and cruel (and daily) personal attacks. His ancestry, his choice of life partner and just about anything else have been criticised and sneered at by the usual hard-nosed unhappy folk who stand in opposition to liberal values and general nice things.
Anyone surprised by the party's repeated defeats following the tuition fees fiasco really needs to check their ability to understand what attracted a large number of people to our party. We presented ourselves as something different and ended up being just the same as all the other disappointing compromisers. Compromise is often a good thing but you don't get many people who think it is desirable or attractive.
But that doesn't mean we stop and change course. We got ourselves into this mess and we need to get ourselves out of it. And I'm very pleased to see that Nick Clegg, the man who lead us to great heights and through some very dark times for the party (though hardly the worst given our historically low number of MPs over the last century), is not deserting us when things have gotten difficult.
We need to stand with him. He has put up with a lot of abuse and heartache whilst trying to do what he thinks is right. We don't all need to agree with every decision he has made (though I've become convinced what happened over tuition fees was hardly the greatest betrayal in history as it has been played by the left, it was still foreseeably politically disastrous especially so early into the Coalition). I also believe he has allowed the Tories to play us like fools and they've done it very easily too. But he isn't what is wrong with the party. The party has lost its way. Obsessed with its accomplishments within this Parliament (ones which the Tories are getting all the credit for, alas) it is failing now to paint a picture of what a Lib Dem future looks like and why it is radically different to the bleak visions of the Tories and Labour. That is what we must focus on and not be distracted by some pointless and damaging leadership contest.
Nick Clegg needs a stable party in order to fix the things that have gone wrong. And we need a stable leadership to allow us any hope of securing our strongholds for the bitter storm that will be the 2015 general election.
If you believe in liberty, in fairness and in Europe join the Lib Dems. I'm going to renew my membership next month (10 years in the party now I think) and I'm going to contact my new local party and see what I might offer in aid. The fight against the clearly defined vision of Ukip must begin now, to secure our freedoms and our country from their nasty plans.