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Any recovery will be an uphill battle primarily against the SNP.

Some evidence for optimism comes as well in the form of council by-elections since May.

34 council by-elections since the general where the Lib Dems put up a candidate before have seen an average increase in vote share of 5%, and over all by-elections since May the Lib Dems have made a net gain of 11 seats.

The 2016 elections are particularly important as first major post-Coalition test for the Lib Dems.

Many Lib Dems will hope that leaving the Coalition will allow a relatively immediate recovery in Lib Dem fortunes, especially if Tim Farron and the party manage to make some noise over the next 6 months in opposition to government policies.

Their best result is likely to be to use the Mayoral and constituency campaigns to motivate and maximise Lib Dem list votes across London to maintain the party's two list AMs or even capture a further one.

The English locals are possibly the most significant of the 4 contests, given the sheer number of people involved: thousands of councillors.

Nobody knows whether something will come along to blow the government off course by next May, nor do we know what effect Jeremy Corbyn's election will have by next year for good or ill.

But, the Lib Dems are still easily Britain's 3rd largest party in local government.

This poses an opportunity for Lib Dem councillors now.

Starting from a low base they are well placed to benefit from an electorate sick of current councils who have been in post for years, and seeking to 'cast the rascals out'.

This reflects a time when both Conservative and Labour parties were weak and the Lib Dems forged a USP for themselves by opposing the Iraq War and Tuition fees.