Nine excuses the Lib Dems gave for their crushing election defeat

Last Thursday's election was catastrophic for the Lib Dems. The party lost 49 seats after picking up just 7.9 per cent of the vote.

But if you'd been listening to the party's leadership, MPs and defeated candidates in the last few days, their dismal loss had absolutely nothing to do with utterly failing to live up to their 2010 election promises.

Here are all the reasons they have given over the last few days:

1. It was the "politics of fear"

Former Cambridge MP Julian Huppert blamed defeat on the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip pushing a "politics of fear" which he explained was a "toxic environment for Liberalism".

2. It was "forces entirely beyond their control"

In his resignation speech, former leader Nick Clegg said: "It is simply heartbreaking to see so many friends and colleagues who have served their friends and constituents so diligently over so many years abruptly lose their seats because of forces entirely beyond their control."

That's sort of how elections work, Nick.

3. It was the electorate's fault

Norman Baker, who lost his seat in Lewes, said after defeat: "It is clear that up and down the country the seats the Tories won came from the Liberal Democrats and in many cases such as Lewes the Tory vote did not move and therefore the Tories were handed victory by Green and Labour voters no longer prepared to vote Lib Dem.

"In seeking to punish us, they have only succeeded in punishing themselves."

See above note on how elections work.

4. It was the SNP's fault

Ousted business secretary Vince Cable, who lost his seat in Twickenham, said the defeat was caused by "a very well organised national campaign based on people’s fear of a Labour Government and the Scottish nationalists".

5. The people were "terrified"

Speaking on Radio 4 on Monday, potential leadership candidate Tim Farron said: "When one looks back at the election and you realise that the best asset David Cameron has is the SNP and the best asset the SNP has is David Cameron.

"This was an election fought basis of people terrified of the other. Fear is hugely motivating factor in elections, I'm sad to report."

6. Liberal people don't know liberal when it's staring them in the face

Another leadership candidate, Norman Lamb, said: "This is a liberal age, and yet people who have liberal values, liberal views, don’t always associate themselves with our party."

7. It was the opinion polls

Paddy Ashdown, the Lib Dem peer who worked as the party's election strategist, told the Guardian after defeat: "Actually, what killed us was the inaccuracy of the pre-election polls. If the polls had shown the real situation – the Tories with a clear lead over Labour – then the argument that we had to be there to moderate them would have had far greater traction."

8. It was David Cameron's fault

In prolific excuse-generating mode, Ashdown also added that it was the prime minister's ruthless targeting of his former coalition partners. "Cameron could only save himself by taking Lib Dem seats so he had to do it as effectively as he could. It was his way of surviving," he said. He also said that Cameron's speech about the SNP and the threat to the Union was "one of the most irresponsible" made by a prime minister.

9. It was the "selling of democracy"

Baroness Shirley Williams, a Lib Dem peer, said the deliberate targeting of some of the party's MPs by Labour and the Conservatives was unfair. "All these men and women were targeted in order to be destroyed," she told the BBC. "What one's looking at is not just the normal swings and balances of politics. We're looking at something much worse... namely the selling of democracy.

"The sums that were poured into this election exceed by a very long mark any of the amounts spent in recent elections."

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