Some 306 Tory MPs were elected in May 2010 (47% of the total on 36.1% of the vote), compared to a meagre 57 Lib Dems (only 9%, despite the party actually getting 23.0% of the vote).
And so the Lib Dems in parliament have had quite a battle to achieve their successes so far in government.
First Past the Post is neither a fair, nor a kind system (so let’s hope it can still be changed as soon as possible!).
Thus, on Tuesday of this week, the arithmetic of the parliament resulting from our broken electoral system may, aided by the Tories, seek to conspire against the public’s wishes, with a sizeable number of more traditionalist backbench Conservatives set to rebel against the government motion to legalise equal marriage.
The Tories have a contemptible record of opposing socially progressive reforms dating back over a century; acting as a handbrake on ideas to correct injustices, and to make the UK a fairer, more tolerant and more inclusive country.
But what history shows us, is that, in time, the reforms argued for by liberals almost always happen anyway.
The campaigners continue, the arguments for change remain sound, and with the blockage of the Tories electorally put aside, a majority is delivered to see the changes through.
That is why the Tories’ focus on their membership and core vote is self defeating.
Opposition to equal marriage is a vote loser. It will mean fewer Tories elected, which will mean more progressive voices for change when this and future reformist questions are inevitably asked again.
A temporary defeat won’t stop progress, for those fighting for change will not give up.
While the Tories could feasibly delay this legislation, which would be a great disappointment to campaigners, they cannot stop it forever.
Indeed, the more Tories who vote against equal marriage now, and who go on to lose their seats, perhaps the better for Liberal Democrats – for the sooner the more liberal Tories realise that they are in the wrong party and come over to join us, the Liberal Democrats, then the sooner we can grow as a parliamentary party, grow our influence, and go on to do what’s rightly desired by the public and right by the country.
* Andrew Tennant is a Lib Dem member in Loughborough.