The short answer is no. Or at least, it's too early to say. The manner in which the LibDems pick themselves up off the floor will have a great impact on how they do at the next election. There is a school of thought which believes that Gordon Brown and Labour will be so unpopular by the time of the next election that people will automatically vote Tory to rid us of the "dour one". And as a by product, the LibDems will be stuffed like the dead parrot some of us always hoped they would turn into. Wishful thinking, I'd say. Matthew Parris, however, has a different take...
“Looking beyond the immediate, the future of this party matters tremendously to British democracy. Were Labour and the Conservatives allowed to divide the landscape between them, we should all be the poorer. I know how fear of losing decent, moderate voters to the Liberal Democrats has acted to restrain illiberal instincts among some Conservative politicians. If Liberal Democracy did not exist, an ever-present threat, I doubt David Cameron would have made it to the leadership of my own party.”
I happen to believe that's a load of bollocks. Especially the last bit. David Cameron's election had absolutely nothing to do with the existence of the Liberal Democrats, just as I think David Cameron's influence on Charles Kennedy's demise has been greatly overstated by many in the lobby.
The return of two party politics will depend on two things. Firstly whether and how the LibDems can recover from the traumas of the past few weeks. And secondly, on whether David Cameron's big tent and be expanded into the ground currently occupied by the LibDems and part of New Labour. There's every sign that Cameron's occupation of that ground is no 'one week wonder'. The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh must have been reading this blog, for he too predicted today that one or two LibDem MPs might defect to the Tories over the next few months. This is not just idle Westminster village chit chat, it's being talked about by serious people. And if LibDem don't regard Trevor Kavanagh as serious then that just illustrates the different planet they inhabit.
I don't think it's possible to totally neutralise the LibDems, but what is possible is to turn the orange tide back. I am perhaps the wrong person to pontificate on this subject after my result in North Norfolk but I am in no doubt that there will be LibDem seats up for grabs at the next election and our aim should be to push them back under 30 seats. If I had suggested this in early December many would have accused me of taking leave of my senses. I wonder if in their heart of hearts they are still so sure now. As I say, there's a long way to go, but there are all sorts of possibilities. No one can say politics is boring any more!