I’m definitely one of those Conservatives for whom the coalition has been a real eye-opener. I wasn’t keen when the talks were taking place, especially when it seemed that the Lib Dems were playing the two sides off against each other by holding talks with Labour. And the political animal in me just didn’t like the idea of power sharing. I hadn’t been tramping the streets for months on end to elect anything but a Conservative government.

But as time has passed I’ve become a real fan.

Part of it is because of my basic approach to politics. I’m not interested in power for power’s sake. It isn’t what motivates me, instead I’m there because I believe in some basic principles (low tax, freedom of the individual, a small state) and because I believe I can help by being part of the change towards that, but not because I have a particular desire for power.

It’s possibly principles that makes me such a coalition fan; it has to be based on principles, they are what bind the two partners together, as well as highlighting their differences so they maintain their individual characters. It is such a contrast from the Labour, for whom it seemed that gaining and retaining power was the emphasis of Blair and Brown.

And then we get things like Your Freedom. It will be years before we know how much government policy is being driven by the Conservatives and how much is being driven by the Liberal Democrats, but I can’t help but think that a lot of the civil liberty agenda is coming from the Lib Dems. And, if that’s true, thank God for them.

There is part of me that thinks it doesn’t go far enough. It’s all very well asking what legislation or regulations should be repealed, for example, I’ve never understood why we don’t make more use of sunset laws – so legislation has a defined life unless expressly extended (and, by implication, has a justification for that extension). However, it is a refreshing start and not just a civil liberty issue, but also an example of the big society, allowing people to play a part in the government.

I still can’t help but think it’s an incredibly exciting time for government and the country. There are huge challenges as a result of years of Labour mismanagement, but they will force us to focus on what’s really important for the nation and the area, but will also mean there are opportunities for people to directly be involved in the running of services.

I know that there will be groups who take responsibility for schools or services that I don’t like or agree with; that is an inevitable consequence of devolving powers to people. But even with that, it makes for a healthier and better society when people, not politicians, are the ones holding the power.

And extending that approach to government, perhaps it’s healthier when power has to be shared between two coalition partners than when it is held by a single party. I’m still a Conservative (and would probably still prefer a single party government) but I’m worrying I’m detecting distinct liberal tendencies in my advancing years.

With only four days of the election campaign behind us (although in reality it’s been much much longer) yesterday saw the first formal step with the close of nominations for the council elections.

Efficient as ever I received confirmation of my nomination from Wandsworth today, the full list of nominated candidates will be published on Monday. You will notice (for convenience as much as anything) my wife acted as my proposer! I think it’s as much because she likes having the house to herself most evenings while I’m stuck at the Town Hall.

I was also alerted to another dodgy Lib Dem bar graph by a comment in response to my post. This time it was for Graveney ward, the only ward that can be considered a three way fight (the gaps between the parties are less than 200 votes) I couldn’t find a digital copy of the leaflet, but managed to find a very similar looking one that appears to be the same proportions. Using the Lib Dem vote as the benchmark you can’t help but notice that they understate the size of both the Labour and Lib Dem votes.

An Islington Lib Dem activist contacted me after my first post to point out that since they don’t have any labelling on the Y axis it’s all fine. I’m not sure if they were being serious or not.

I’m a lover of Lib Dem campaign leaflets. For years they have had a few consistent themes.

One is the clipboard, the idea is that if you have a clipboard you are obviously (a) important, (b) working and, by extension (c) doing important work. So what better way to show how busy you are than to always have a clipboard with you. The Glum Councillors website shows a few fine examples from Lewisham and Woking and the James Sandbach, the Putney Lib Dem candidate is clearly a master.

But the classic Lib Dem theme is the ‘winning here/two horse race/can’t win here’ bar chart. These have been mocked and derided over the years since they bear no relation to actual figures, statistics or results – but instead give a misleading impression of Lib Dem chances. So I was amazed to see the Southfields version (where they are in second place and beating Labour) with the health warning: “not to scale”.

I actually did wonder what a to scale graph would look like, so made one, based on the average votes per party in 2006, which were Conservative 2,241, Liberal Democrat 773 and Labour 650. The Lib Dems weren’t that far out, they got the order right, at least.

What will be interesting is to see how those graphs look on 7 May. With an unpopular Labour party nationally it might well be that they will struggle to hold second place in many wards locally.

Back in 2006 candidates from the Lib Dems or Greens managed to insert themselves into the second place group (i.e. 4th to 6th place in 3 member wards) in 8 wards. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that when it comes to political campaigning – if not council administration – that the real opposition will be coming from those parties rather than Labour.