If the Lib Dems ever want to be a major force in British politics again, they need to completely reinvent themselves and embrace their liberal instincts.
If the Lib Dems wish to remain a major force in British politics they need to ditch the “democrats”, both in name and ideology.
The Lib Dems have long been a divided party, ever since they merged with the SDP (and arguably before). This split between social democrats, like Vince Cable and Tim Farron, and classic liberals (or ‘Orange Bookers’), like Nick Clegg and David Laws, hasn’t mattered much in opposition - where they can promise a lot without ever having to implement policies - but in government this split has only grown.
The option of the Liberal Democrats once again becoming Britain’s protest party is not possible, as, after five years in government the public will never see them as an anti-establishment party. These protest voters, of course, have found a new home in parties like the Greens, and somewhat surprisingly, UKIP.
If the Lib Dems truly hold ambitions of changing British politics and being an electoral success again, they need to relaunch themselves as a new radically liberal party. They could offer a genuinely different alternative for the public.
This new liberal party would support a smaller state - not just in terms of lower taxes and public spending - but also promoting liberty over excessive state security. They would support a liberal drug policy of decriminalisation, defend civil liberties, and fight for democratic change in British politics.
This would not be a dramatic shift in ideology for many Lib Dems, and there is evidence it could be a popular party. As Britain is growing ever more socially and economically liberal, the Lib Dems could become the first party to reflect this.
It's no surprise that almost half of Britons think the Lib Dems will “fade away” within the next decade, if the Lib Dems are to stop this becoming a reality they will need to be both brave and radical in reforming themselves.