One cannot help but notice that people don't treat us they way that they used to. That isn't to say that we were treated particularly well, as we tended to be patronised if we were mentioned at all. Now, we get much more media coverage, although little of it is flattering or particularly kindly.
It's as though we were nice people, unsuited to power, who you could vote for safely because we weren't actually going to win. A protest vote, a way of telling the Party you really supported that they needed to return to the 'path of righteousness'. Maybe we are nice people - I'd certainly like to think so - but we also want to build a better society. We're not alone in that, for regardless of what we, or anyone else, think, our opponents all want to do the same. It's just that their views and ours don't necessarily match up.
However, we have allowed ourselves to get a bit beyond ourselves, perhaps. Unused to national power, we have been a bit naïve, a bit prone to philosophical introspection. We've forgotten why we do what we do. Indeed, for a Party that talks about pluralism and consensus, we have struggled to remember what that implies - compromise, the balancing of one ambition against another.
And government is about the art of the possible, not tidy arithmetic, where you can say, "pay this and you get that". We need to be honest about that, to talk about trade-offs and disagreement, about how a manifesto is the balancing of priorities, about why if X happens, you can't do Y. In short, talk about why things are.
Yes, there are risks in doing so. With the media determined to find differences between the Coalition partners or, where they don't, create them, that debate will continue until they get bored, or the public do. And anyway, there are differences - just look at the manifestos. But if you want a new politics, you have to do politics differently - dialogue, debate, the open expression of difference, the reasoning for compromise. And, occasionally, a healthy row.
Given that political parties are, by their nature, compromises in pursuit of power, there is every chance that we might convince enough people to make the pain we're going through worthwhile. Politics with principles, if every there were a prize worth winning, that might be it...
* a Hertfordshire special... because you're worth it...