WHAT’S gone wrong with the LibDems?

After promising to achieve so much, the party’s apparently losing Remain voters south of the border and Jo Swinson might be doing well to hang on to the supposedly impregnable seat of East Dunbartonshire. A YouGov poll suggests the party contains the largest number of “late switchers”, with a whopping 60% of supporters saying their minds could change before polling day. Another poll found that the more people see the LibDem leader in action, the less they like her. YouGov also predicted that the party’s high-profile defectors – Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Philip Lee, Sam Gyimah and Sarah Wollaston – will all lose their seats. And, of course, by the time you read this, Jo Swinson’s TV encounter with Andrew Neil will undoubtedly have administered the final knock on the heid to her ludicrous prime ministerial ambitions. It’s bound to be

cringe-making, just like the Question Time debate, where viewers watched amazed as LibDem voters attacked the party’s undemocratic “End Brexit without a second referendum” stance and wellied into her infamous austerity-supporting voting record. Ms Swinson’s increasingly desperate answers hung in the hostile studio air, without a single burst of applause from the audience. The phrase car-crash is often overused. But not about Jo Swinson’s performance that night.

The expectation is that Andrew Neil will make that Question Time savaging look like a walk in the park.

But then, that’s what he does.

READ MORE: Jo Swinson accused of hypocrisy over Scottish independence

The veteran BBC presenter’s taken lumps out of every other party leader in the hot seat, yet somehow, they’ve survived.

Perhaps it was canny of Corbyn and Sturgeon to get it over and done with early on and brave or foolhardy of Ms Swinson to hang off. She could have ducked the invitation and made her appearance contingent on the feart Boris Johnson appearing too. But the LibDem campaign is collapsing so fast that Jo Swinson has had to hope Oscar Wilde is right – the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.

And nae doot, whatever Donald Trump comes out with today, Jo Swinson’s performance will be the talk of the steamie, one week out from polling day.

The National:

READ MORE: Jo Swinson challenged by Glasgow student over austerity deaths

So, how has it all gone wrong?

Obviously, Jo Swinson’s determination to make her own personality a key selling point was as big a mistake as the Tories’ “strong and stable” over-selling of Theresa May in 2017 (though at least Swinson hasn’t tried to dance at the podium). The LibDems – previously led by low-key grandees like Vince Cable and Menzies Campbell – seem to have been completely over-awed by this young woman with a monstrously guid conceit of herself. So, they stood back and let Jo Swinson mess with their party. In came streams of defecting Tories and a monumental burst of ego – out went the long-standing commitment to a second Brexit referendum and the modesty that befits the long-term third party in British politics.

The LibDem makeover was dazzling, dizzying and daft and depended on Jo Swinson’s personality to stand any chance of success.

And, of course, that’s the first major snag – if you make yourself the story, you’d better be good. And Swinson just isn’t that persuasive or personable.

A party insider told the Times last week, “People just hate her. I have been in a pub when she has been on the telly and people have started shouting at the screen. Her girlie swot image has done nothing to endear her to voters.”

Well, aye.

The National:

The real girly swot is the formidably clever and genuinely funny Joanna Cherry who didn’t earn the title by donning a self-referencing T-shirt a la Swinson, but by winning Brexit-related legal action twice, bringing MPs from other parties with her and hammering on despite initial court setbacks. Indeed, Swinson pulled Christine Jardine, the only LibDem MP involved, out of the Article 50 court case, but then made the “revoke” position, won by (mostly) SNP politicians, all her own, promising to just dump Brexit without a second vote, if the LibDems form the next government.

I ken pigs were always more likely to fly, but the arrogance and presumption has been breathtaking – and whilst that clearly works for Boris Johnson, it’s jarring in the extreme for the leader of a small, supposedly progressive party. The LibDems’ campaign has been presumptuous and grating – and let’s not even mention the accent.

JO Swinson scored nul points from the Kirkintilloch jury by failing to show for a hustings in a Baptist church in her constituency which, thanks to her support for austerity, houses a much-used food bank. Not a good look.

Polls suggest that her lead over the SNP in East Dunbartonshire – where she had a fairly substantial 5339 majority – is now only 4%.

If pride comes before a fall, Jo Swinson was always going to take a tumble. But polls suggests the biggest reversal could be happening in the most surprising place: Remain-voting London.

This week the Tory-leaning Standard newspaper (edited by George Osborne) carried the headline “Jeremy Corbyn has begun a fightback in the crucial London election battleground”.

According to Professor Philip Cowley of Queen Mary University of London, Remain voters are slowly but steadily switching from the LibDems to Labour. In November, Labour had 52% of London’s Remain vote, with the LibDems on 26%. The figures are now 60% and 21% respectively. Not a tidal wave – but still. A month ago, Londoners thought Swinson was doing a good job as LibDem leader with a net score of +2. A month’s exposure has reduced that score to -19.

So, what’s happening?

Tempting as it is to lay all the blame for the LibDems' stumbling performance at the feet of their over-hyped leader – and boy is it tempting – the party’s likely standstill next Thursday arises from a much more deep-seated failing.

Look beyond the irritating personality to the hope and strategy-free void that the LibDems have become. North and south of the border, voters agree on just one thing: something’s gotta change. The Tories’ recipe for national renewal is splendid isolation from Europe, deregulation and a trade deal with a man likely to face impeachment proceedings soon. Labour’s answer is a return to public ownership, financed by higher borrowing and taxes. The SNP’s aim is to put power back into the hands of Scots via a second independence referendum.

But what do the LibDems want, beyond blocking every other escape route advocated by their rivals? If they don’t want Brexit, public ownership or Scottish independence, what is the LibDem vision for the future? A bit more of this, a bit less of that – it’s hardly inspiring. A Green New Deal – everyone’s got one of them. Federalism – no-one’s heard a squeak about that, or about the proportional representation that would drag Britain kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

So, do the LibDems think everything in Britain is basically OK?

It seems years of ducking, weaving, dealing and calculating have left the party without a vision and supporters have nothing to cling on to, save the wavering glamour of a tactical vote.

Now I ken you’re thinking: who cares?

But consider this.

The Tories need Jo Swinson to take votes from Labour in England and Wales to guarantee the majority Boris Johnson craves. Glory be – that stealthy wee plan might not be working out.

So while there’s life – and more teeth-grating performances by Jo Swinson – there’s hope. Whatever the pollsters claim, there’s still everything to play for before polling day.