All political parties are, to all intents and purposes, coalitions. The difference for the Lib Dems is that, where most political parties have guiding principles, the Lib Dems seem to find the cupboard is empty. The Lib Dems have grown support based on a few powerful issues which has matched the rise in issues based campaigning in British politics in recent years.
Take away one of these issues – tuition fees for instance or maybe electoral reform – from the Lib Dems offering and their support, based on backing that one campaign, disappears. They are bereft of an ideology which in itself is not always a bad thing in politics. It becomes a negative when there is nothing else left to hold on to.
Ask a Lib Dem voter why they vote Lib Dem a year ago and they would, in all probability list 'environmentalism', 'voting reform', 'tuition fees', 'war in Iraq' or 'they aren't like the others' as their reasons. The first three have gone as part of the coalition agreement, Iraq is old-hat and the last has in the past year been proven to be untrue.
This is why Nick Clegg has come out fighting today talking of 'muscular liberalism' but until he defines precisely what this might be, the Lib Dems will remain a political party without ideas, principles or a defining philosophy.