Worse, much worse, is that the entire party doesn't know what it is there for. Having justified its existence for five years as the moderating influence over a Conservative government that had to be in power in order to fix the economy they now find themselves unsure of what criticism to launch. The public have rejected them as seekers after office who don't really care who is in power just so long as they allow them a few Ministries. The complete turn round on tuition fees followed by five years of trying to justify things that they didn't really believe in have left them so lacking in public trust that they even lost a shed load of seats to the Conservatives.
Indeed, mathematically the last election wasn't lost by Labour. Against the Conservatives they didn't go backwards much at all - despite it being Labour that lost the most votes in marginals to UKIP. Mathematically what really happened is that the Lib Dems lost so many seats to the Conservatives that they are now able to govern without Lib Dem support. The Lib Dems couldn't even persuade their voters in Conservative inclined seats that they could be trusted and were the moderate responsible voice of the last government.
I don't raise this issue because I want to indulge in kicking a party when it is down. I raise the issue because there is a risk of losing something with the Lib Dems and that is a point of view which is worth preserving.
There has always been a faction of liberalism which did exactly what it said on the tin. It wanted freedom and it fought hard for principles such as freedom of speech, individual privacy, citizens rights and the rights of minorities. These are pretty rare arguments these days and all the more necessary for that. The government wants to read our emails, ban a wide range of people from speaking their mind even if they are not violent, take away our rights to protest or to strike and make us fearful of the views of minorities. In this context a powerful voice for liberty is badly needed
There was also a longstanding liberal tradition which saw the importance of free trade and was interested in international collaboration and in creating a sense of common purpose across the dangerously divided continent of Europe. This internationalism is a pretty valuable point of view as we enter the run up to a referendum on turning us into an isolated little England entering a gentile decline.
But there comes a point where a party has gone beyond useful reform. Part of the Liberal Democrats want to ally themselves with Labour in the hope that it can return to power on its coat-tails. It is not clear to me why anyone would vote Lib Dem if they wanted Labour back. Part of the Lib Dems want to get back into alliance with the Conservatives to demonstrate that they are responsible people but with a heart. That option has gone and it has been shown that voters prefer to vote for the real thing rather than half hearted austerity.
And then there is the faction of the Lib Dems that want to go back to their roots and rebuild support. Some of them wanting to do so over a strong environmental agenda, a strong freedom agenda and a strong agenda of reforming and modernising the economy.
There is just one problem with this. The main group of campaign supporters that the Lib Dems need to recuit is young people who have radical ambitions and aren't scared of putting hard hours of campaigning in for a worthwhile cause. Most of those young people will not touch the Lib Dems in their lifetime because they placed their trust in them over tuition fees and got let down.
So what should a person do if they want to be part of rebuilding a strong liberal tradition? I genuinely think their best option is to leave a party that has become a toxic brand and join with the Greens.
The Greens need an injection of people who are as interested in freedom and co-operation as they are in equality. Liberals need a party that is genuinely radical and which is free of the taint of scrabbling after office. It is potentially a marriage made in heaven.
If you are, or know anyone who is a Lib Dem activist then think about this question. Where are you likely to achieve most for your injection of effort? In trying to revive the corpse of a party that no longer knows what it believes in and no longer has the trust of the public. Or in trying to build a party that is respected by the public and has a radical vision for the future that shares much of the best of the liberal traditions and adds to it an even stronger belief in fairness and equality.
I know which I would prefer to be part of.