It was a chilling moment last night when the country gathered around TVs, radios, laptops and iPhones to see the first exit polls suggest that the Liberal Democrats might not blow away the two stagnated, backwards-thinking and barely distinguishable old parties, after all.
April 16 saw Lib Dem supporters enjoy unadulterated euphoria as a few optimistic tweets and yellow-dominated polls after the first televised debate marked the beginning – and the beginning of the end – of the Lib Dems’ very real chance of securing power.
“What happened?” is the thought flashing through the minds of stunned progressives, as the party that just a few days ago was set to win a record number of seats ended up in much the same position they started from.
It was probably naive of me to think that voters who switched to Lib Dem because Mr Clegg looks better on TV would stick with us until polling day. The general air of mourning was perhaps as much for the deflating results as for our now-bruised idealism which let us dare hope that 2010 would be the year to make a real difference to the country.
Britain has spent decades caught between the desperate clutches of a Labour party that has abandoned its grassroot socialist ideals, and a Conservative party whose reactionary core is disguised by a brazen re-enactment of 1997 Blairism.
The only plausible explanation for the Lib Dems’ failure to change this is that British voters got last-minute cold feet.
Pleas of the public to vote tactically and endless discussions about our flawed electoral system would have confused even the most knowledgeable of voters. Is it really surprising that the general consensus was “Oh, well, Cameron will do”?
To all those people I would say no, David Cameron will not do. And neither will Gordon Brown. Immigration, education, environment, NHS, Trident, income tax, inheritance tax, national insurance tax, VAT -- the list of past disasters is endless and I have no doubt that a Tory government will make failure after failure of half-hearted attempts at fixing them.
Perhaps it’s OK for some people to hang around for another three, four or five years, hoping for the best, but something tells me that won’t be necessary. Watch this space: I predict a revolution. But then I predicted a Liberal Democrat landslide so maybe I’m not the one to ask.