Later today MPs will vote on whether or not to significantly increase tuition fees.
For me the lead up to this vote, and the implications for the party I have campaigned for for 23 years, are profoundly depressing.
I do accept that in a coalition we will have to make compromises. We have 57 MPs in a House Commons where the two dominant political parties both believe that individual students should make a substantial contribution to the cost of their first degree. I understand and accept that.
But what I find depressing is the way in which our party leaders, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable in particular, appear to be more willing to argue that black is white rather than stand up for our party's clear policy and the principles behind it.
Nick and Vince have tried to frame the debate as being about whether monthly repayments are lower or higher than under the current system. Clearly they are lower, at least for a few years, and clearly anyone earning between £15K and £21K will be better off.
And clearly the improvements for part-time students are welcome.
But surely the debate is about more than monthly repayments. (Apart from the fact that paying slightly lower monthly repayments, but for two or three times as many years, leaves you a lot worse off overall.)
Surely what is important to us, as Liberal Democrats, is that Higher Education is (or at least should be) an experience which transforms individuals and boosts their contribution to society.
Surely we should be arguing that yes, there are benefits to many graduates' earning potential, but the wider beneficial effects are far more important.
Surely, even if we believe that individuals will benefit, we believe that society benefits too? And that it is reasonable for society to pay at least some of the cost of each individual's higher education.
I wanted to hear our leaders arguing this case. A case which has won the day repeatedly at party conferences, in policy committees, and in manifesto negotiations. A case which our leaders argued during the election campaign. A case which is based on a Liberal view of the broader value of education.
Sadly this hasn't happened.
Sadly our leaders appear to be so bought in to making the coalition work that they see arguing the detail, and redefining concepts such as 'fairness' and 'progressive' rather than arguing the party's principles.
Sadly it appears that they would rather divert our attention onto what some email someone in NUS might have sent, than debate the real issues.
Our party leadership appear to have completely underestimated the importance of this issue to activists, members and a lot of the people who voted for us.
They appear to have ignored the express view of party conference and all the discussions that took place during the formulation of the manifesto for the last election.
And they appear to have forgotten a whole pile of things they said about trust in politics.
So it isn't the fact we have to compromise that annoys me, it is the way we got to this position.
They could have made this more of an issue in the coalition negotiations.
They could have chosen different priorities in departmental spending.
They could have 'received' the Browne Report rather than 'welcomed' it.
They could have taken a bit more time to look at all the alternatives, not rush to proposals based on the Browne report.
And our leaders could have made it clear that this is a compromise, but one that is difficult for the Lib Dems.
If they had done these things we would not be in the mess we are now.
Instead we have a set of proposals that mean that future graduates will pay the full (and possibly more than the full) cost of their degree while those of us whose education was paid for by other people's taxes pay nothing extra.
We have a scheme that means those who end up on above average but still modest incomes will pay back a much greater share of their earnings than those on high incomes, so that it is NOT progressive.
We have a scheme which will mean that most graduates will pay far more over their lifetime than under the current scheme.
And all this from a Government that claims that it is dealing with the deficit quickly so that future generations don't have to pay for the mistakes of this one.
So this is why Lib Dem MPs should vote against the Government's proposals.
They are unfair, they are not progressive, and they do not, therefore, pass the tests set down in the coalition agreement.
Our leadership has failed to argue the party's strong case for free education paid for by progressive taxation (so that those who do benefit financially would contribute more) and therefore have no right to expect our MPs to support them.
P.S. Yes Labour have been rubbish on this too and NUS not much better, but this isn't about them.