As Nick Clegg finally stops posing and gets down to what he should have done a few days ago, he may well come to regret the dithering of yesterday and this morning if signals in Puddlecoteville are a clue.
As we are, sadly, all too aware, yer average Joe Bloggs and missus couldn't give much of a stuff about politics in this age of a million distractions. The first hung parliament since the 70s has stirred some of the inquisitive, though, and on quite a few occasions this week I've been asked to explain what's going on. Unfortunately for Clegg, as he zig-zags from one side of the politicial street to the other like some drunk who has forgotten where to catch his last bus, the nature of his party has been a bit of a shock to some.
You see, in Puddlecoteville, only skagheads and 60 year old hippies vote Labour and there aren't too many of them in Home Counties suburbia. Three-bed semi man and his 2.4 children-bearing wife choose Tory or Lib Dem, and those that vote Lib Dem do so because they see them as watered down conservatives for the lower middle class.
However, I've sensed horror in the eyes, and words, of some of them today as they contemplated their votes possibly being contributory to a Lib/Lab pact which could have put Miliband or Harman into number 10.
They have fallen hook, line and sinker for the 'Liberal' bit and were very surprised to hear debates on the radio which described the Lib Dems as left of centre, or "closer on policy to Labour than the Tories".
Left of centre? They are fence-sitters, and proud of it. They want an easy life, not to be labelled as a lefty - a term which still holds a certain amount of stigma in these here parts. Commentators have said that Lib Dem supporters may hesitate to trust them in the future after seeing Clegg's behaviour, but there's also the danger that very many may now view the party as a bit too close to the 'loony left' abyss which they still associate with Labour.
Seriously. I've been at events and parties before now where conversations err into political territory and I've seen awkward silences when someone admits to voting Labour. The subject generally gets changed very quickly while everyone struggles to work out if this normal looking person is just a bit mad or actually dangerous.
Clegg threatening to jump into bed with Labour will have had alarm bells here ringing as if launched into with a huge steel mallet by Quasimodo himself.
Add into the mix the widely held view that election 2010 is proving exactly why we shouldn't be looking at PR and Clegg may well have stored up all sorts of problems in the many Tory/LD marginals which they currently hold around here.
They were all, without exception, staunchly Conservative until the 90s and would happily return there if a vote for the Lib Dems is ever seen as a possible back door way in for the 'lefties'.
Clegg's actions this week may have been altruistic, or may have been rather selfish, but it matters not which. He has incubated the notion that his party is to the left, and for many voters in Puddlecoteville, that is something they had never contemplated before.
There could be some interesting blue/yellow battles around here come the next election.