Waking up the next morning it is easy to feel embarrassed, stupid and remorseful. Those easy words, those seductive plays; of course they were rehearsed and aimed to trick you but it’s easy to be taken in at the time, get swept away in the moment; thinking that this one’s different, this one is for the long term.

And yet there you are on that cold day, sharp shivers that cut to the bone, more from the icy memories than the cool Spring temperature. A walk of shame that can last four or five years before the wrong can be righted.

Yes, voting Lib Dem can leave even the most battle-hardened with scars for life. We all experiment and do stupid things when we’re young I suppose.

Memories of elections are starting to merge into one for me but I think it was 2005 when it was my turn to dip my electoral finger into the appealing icing offered by the Lib Dems, without considering what, if any, substance there was in the cake underneath. Perhaps that is why I am being so hard on the Lib Dems during this campaign, some latent anger at having been duped by a party that I don’t really associate myself with, or perhaps it is the 2010 deal with the Tories, or perhaps it is the disappointing sight of train fares rocketing and wi-fi being stripped out of East Coast while domestic air travel remains King or perhaps it is just the continued duplicity that seems prevalent within the Scottish Lib Dems, even today.

Take their policy to keep policing local. A fine policy and an important argument against the likely move to combine policing into one cost-saving merged force. I personally have no strong feeling either way; I recognise the financial benefits of shared resources but I also recognise the benefits of having a localised service that can adapt more easily to local factors. However, as much as I understand that the Lib Dems don’t have many policy strings to their bow right now, it is just downright deceitful to assert time and time and time again that they are the only party that is fighting to keep policing local. From Orkney through Aberdeen to Perth, and no doubt beyond, this lie, for there is no other word, is being propagated.

How can we sympathise with Chris Huhne attacking the No to AV campaign for spreading lies when his party is doing the same thing up here in Scotland? I can understand why the Lib Dems would want to wish the Green party away but it doesn’t seem to be working as the (hitherto) 5th party of the Parliament is finally gaining some traction in the polls.

Another Scottish Lib Dem bugbear of mine is equality. The party likes to paint itself as at the forefront of any fight against discrimination and, again, there is plenty of merit in their words and deeds. However, they let themselves down by allowing that moral high ground go to their heads. Take Caron’s rationale for not signing this 1,100-strong petition to include Patrick Harvie in the leader debates:

“I actually think that rather than push for Patrick, I’d have been a lot more engaged with the idea if they’d decided against putting another middle aged bloke in a suit on that stage, where, frankly, there are already enough of them, and gone for a woman who has equal authority and status in their party.”

Given that one of those ‘middle aged blokes in a suit’ is Tavish Scott, I thought this was a pretty shaky premise to build an argument on but Caron went on:

“It just screams of blokes in a huddle again, not looking at the bigger picture. They want Patrick in the debates to give them more balance, but they’ve missed the chance to show that they are aware of and act on other sorts of imbalance.”

That’s fine, I don’t get to dictate what people sign or don’t sign, just as Caron doesn’t get to dictate which co-leader the Green Party puts up to argue for its policies, but I take exception at Caron’s complaints of ‘blokes in a huddle’ when the Scottish Lib Dem MSP group for 2007-2011 consisted of 2 women and 14 men. The worst gender imbalance of any of the so-called ‘main parties’.

So, are they set to improve on this lamentable position given that they so often claim to be the party of equality and fairness? Well, no actually. The number of women in the Lib Dem MSP group is expected to decrease from 2 to 1.

The most recent poll suggests that the Lib Dem group will reduce to eight:

Liam McArthur – Orkney
Tavish Scott – Shetland
Alison McInnes – North East
Mike Rumbles – North East
Mike Pringle – Lothians
Willie Rennie – MS&F
Jim Hume – South
Ross Finnie – West

How’s that for “missing the chance to show that they are aware of and act on other sorts of imbalance”?

It is not only a squeeze on policy that has led to desperation for the Lib Dems, it is the result of the 2007 election. You may have noticed a decline in the number of leaflets stating that ‘only the Lib Dems can win here’. That is because the Lib Dems are sitting in second place in only 5 of the 73 constituencies, and 4 of those seats are SNP-held which should remain the case after May 5th. The Lib Dems are struggling to win seats with an honest vote or a tactical vote which perhaps explains, though does not forgive, the behaviour discussed above.

I have no similar problems with the Conservatives or Labour, parties that I also rarely associate myself with. At least they know their place in the political debate and know what it is they are standing for. I really would question whether that is the case for the Scottish Lib Dems and would question whether Scotland needs them at all. What does Tavish’s party bring that the more grounded, robust left of centre parties of SNP, Labour and Greens not already offer? Are the Scottish Lib Dems just becoming a distraction?

This awkward prospect of letting a political party simply slip away is strengthened by the main news item on the Scottish Lib Dem website. Desperately and unashamedly using the inaccurate headline: “Only Lib Dems have solutions for Scotland”, the article talks about volunteering and scouting. Worthy, fuzzy, well-meaning but ultimately ancillary to the core needs of Scotland. For how long can Tavish Scott scurry around the fringes of the debate, looking for a demographic to lead and expect to remain at the top table? What is left of the party when the easy patter, the quick-win protest vote and the dodgy bar chart is no longer an option?

The only sensible way to deal with the smooth-talking Lib Dems? Just say No.