The Liberal Democrats have never been a party that could take power for granted. We don’t have a wealthy base or a union base that we know will always turn out for us. We have to work very hard in order to earn the opportunity to influence at the highest level in politics.
In 2010 we were suddenly in a position where that hard work had presented us with a poisoned chalice. We had to ask ourselves whether we could enter coalition with the Conservatives in order to ensure political stability at a time of economic chaos. Ultimately we had to choose between the long term interests of our country and the short term interests of our party. I’m glad we put the country first. I’m glad that Britain is recovering steadily after a time of great difficulty. I’m glad that our influence in government meant the lowest earners got a tax cut while we closed loopholes and ramped up prosecutions to tackle tax avoidance and evasion by the greediest rich.
Placing ourselves between the Tories and the most vulnerable in society has been an incredibly bruising experience, and with Labour saying they will be tougher on benefits than the Tories, it looks like many people will need us to perform the same role again with a different coalition partner.
We remain the only party that will examine the facts on issues like drug policy and mental health, and show determination to break through the stigma, to place these issues centre stage.
We are the party that can reach across divides, and calmly refuse to demonise. I think deep down you know that Scotland needs the Liberal Democrats now more than ever.