Liberal Democrats - winning here?

Whatever happens, the Lib Dems won’t wake up on June 9th feeling as bad as they did after the last General Election.

The party’s fortunes have improved significantly since that voters administered a career-ending kicking to dozens of former MPs — but that doesn’t mean they should expect a huge increase in Parliamentary strength.

The Lib Dems could find themselves back in the old third party bind — racking up millions of votes, but rarely enough to actually win.

They’re defending 9 seats, including Richmond Park, seized from Zac Goldsmith with an extraordinary swing, a howl of Remainer protest.

That’s led them to choose some ambitious targets for June 8th. The Lib Dems would dearly love to depose prominent Labour leaver Kate Hoey in Vauxhall. Nearly four-fifths of her voters wanted to stay in the EU — but the Lib Dems would need an even bigger swing than they managed in Richmond.

More likely is Cambridge, where just 1-in-4 voted Leave, and a tiny swing would take the seat from Labour. Other good prospects include Twickenham, where Sir Vince Cable hopes to return to the Commons, and Bermondsey, where Sir Simon Hughes could have a tougher fight on his hands.

But outside London, the Lib Dems run into trouble. Their position as the voice of the 48% plays well in the Remain-voting capital, but the rest of southern England voted Leave, potentially putting other target seats beyond them.

St Ives, Torbay and Yeovil would all be vulnerable on any other day, but high Leave votes, combined with the mass desertion of UKIP voters for the Tories, could mean they’re out of reach.

Their only hope is to persuade Labour and Green voters to make a tactical switch but even then seats like Cheltenham and Burnley may stubbornly refuse to fall.

Some predictions see the Lib Dems winning millions of extra votes, but not a single extra seat. They got 18% in the local elections, yet lost seats overall. They will remain by some margin the fourth-biggest party at Westminster, struggling to be noticed in the chamber and on TV.

That would be hugely frustrating, but compared to two years ago any evidence of rising support will provide some comfort at least.

New episode every week during the campaign..