Listening to some interviews with Old & Sad voters following the recent by-election I was struck by some comments from one woman who was very annoyed about the tuition fees issue.
She explained how for various reasons she could not vote for Labour but that also she could not bring herself to vote for the Lib Dems because of the fact that the party had helped triple tuition fees. And instead she voted Conservative.
Yes, you might just need me to repeat that. She voted Conservative.
I think what this demonstrates is that voters do not always vote rationally. If tuition fees is really such a touchstone issue for this woman, how could she possibly bring herself to vote for the party whose fault it largely was that tuition fees went up? If the Lib Dems had formed a majority then the fees would already be on the way to being abolished. As it was they had to compromise with a party who was implacably opposed to anything other than raising tuition fees. The Lib Dems took some of the harsher edges off the policy and made it fairer than it would have been. The Conservatives on their own would I am sure not have approached it in that way.
I just wonder how many people out there over the next few years with the various elections and referenda will follow a similar path to that and vote with their hearts rather than looking objectively at the decisions the parties in government have taken and weighing up the good against the bad.
I do fear that many will not do this and that may be why the Lib Dem polls are so low. I can only hope that over the next few years the party gets its fair share of the credit as well as the blame.