Anyone who has read Paul Burstow's piece yesterday in Lib Dem Voice can surely feel the pain in his carefully chosen words. The promise to listen, the need to add ifs, buts and caveats all over the place, the need to find a scapegoat (Labour) when actually the squeeze is between us, the members, and the Tories. Paul must know how his piece reads to the membership. And he must hate it.
There's a pretty good summation of the problem at the Total Politics blog. And it's no good really saying everyone shouldn't be playing politics. Politics is what we do.
Now it's very easy to join the comments section of LDV and give Paul's piece a good kicking (plenty of people from within the party have started, let alone beyond it!). But is that really going to help? I don't think so. (Not yet anyway)
What I really want to do is make it as easy as possible for Paul to stand up to our coalition partners. To be able to say 'we're not against reform, we are against privatisation by the back door'. After all, there are some good things in the bill. We just want to make sure the bad things are removed.
So let's get writing to our MP's, keep signing the petitions, keep the issue front of mind. We have to make the Conservatives realise if they want to get any of the good things through, they'll have to take out the parts we can't agree with. We have to let Paul, Nick and every other MP know that the only message they can give David Cameron on this is 'sorry - we didn't sign up for this and we can't deliver'.
That is after all, why we negotiated a coalition agreement, and not a blank cheque for the Tories, in the first place.