Nick Clegg, 30 April 2010: "I don't think the choice is between Conservative and Labour – the choice is now between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats".
Some of the people defending the so-called Lib/Con coalition point at similar scenarios in countries with more proportional voting systems.
If you want to avoid distorted landslide majorities, their argument runs, coalition governments are the price to pay for electoral fairness.
This view, however, is flawed on several levels.
1) Most parties joining coalition governments in Western Europe (i.e. France, Germany, Italy) run their election campaign openly declaring where their allegiance is. The process is not as murky as what we saw in the wake of May 6 in the UK. Someone voting for the Green Party in Germany knows that their party will either remain independent, or form (like they did from 1998 to 2005) a coalition with the SPD.
Similarly, someone casting a vote for the Northern League in Italy will know already that their party will be a firm ally of Silvio Berlusconi's party.
Of course there are exceptions (like when the Catalan nationalists CiU backed Aznar's right-wing government in Spain in 1996) but, understandably, they don't tend to go down too well with the electorate.
2) The Liberal Democrats campaigned consistently as an "alternative" party. The reason why so many Lib Dem voters are up in arms at the sight of Nick Clegg jumping in bed with David Cameron is that, for many years, the Lib Dems portrayed themselves as "the real alternative" to both the old parties. "The party that is different", in fact.
Their recent "Labservative" campaign was launched as the party preened themselves as "the only real alternative" to the other two.
But the most atrocious piece of politicking can be found in an interview Nick Clegg gave to a national newspaper six days before the election. Two weeks ago, the Lib Dem leader remarked: "We have taken Labour's place in UK politics".
Most importantly, he added: "I don't think the choice is between Conservative and Labour – the choice is now between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats". Clegg couldn't have been any clearer: a vote for the LibDems would be alternative to the Tories- and that was said on April 30.
More, he also said: "I think if you look at the debate last night, there is just a gulf between what David Cameron stands for and what I stand for – in terms of values, in terms of internationalism, in terms of fairness, in terms of progressive tax reform, in terms of political reform, in terms of simply living in denial, as does Labour, about a major problem of their creation in the immigration system."
I guess even a five-year-old could see why millions of voters and activists now feel shafted.
Particularly, there are entire areas in England (particularly the south-west) where, traditionally, Labour have been a non-entity and the only alternative to the Conservatives have been the Liberal Democrats.
Just imagine thousands of activists working their arse off to fight off the Tories in several constituencies only to find out that a week or two later all that had been an exercise in futility.