Last night it took me a good few hours to get to sleep and I ended up musing over the various compromises you have to make in politics and the effect it has on you.
I'm not talking about compromises with others on things like policy - that's part and parcel of the whole shebang - but the compromises you make with yourself over your fundamental beliefs.
Take secret courts: two years ago I would never have imagined that I'd ever be able to be a member of a party that supported the kind of assault on civil liberties that the coalition's proposals for secret courts represent. But now it looks like Lib Dem MPs will vote for them and yet I'll wind up staying in the party.
The reason for this is that, while I hate what's happening, I still feel more at home in the Lib Dems than I would in any other party and because I still believe that staying in the Lib Dems is the best way to try and achieve the kind of just, fair and free society which I believe in.
If I stay in and fight I probably won't get somewhere on this issue but in time I might well get to be in a position where I can change things for the better - or be in a position where I can help other people change things. But if I leave I'll lose that chance.
So, quite pragmatically, I've compromised the purity of my principles in exchange for the prospect of being able to change things some day - e.g. for the prospect of some kind of power. Because, let's be honest, that's what politics is about: Power.
You pursue power as a tool you need to change the world and you do so because you truly believe in your vision of the country and the world. But, on the way, far too many politicians, people who started out with the best of intentions, end up compromising what they believe in so often that their principles, their good intentions, get lost and all they have left is the pursuit of power for its own sake.
I never could understand that before, I really couldn't. How could people be so stupid? How could they sell out everything they believed in? How could they become so obsessed with winning whilst forgetting why they wanted to win?
But now I can understand. Because, in effect, that's what I find myself doing. I started off with deeply held convictions and as time has gone on I've had to make tiny compromises: such as staying in the Lib Dems despite many of our MPs breaking their promises on tuition fees. And I've always justified them by thinking, well, it's silly to leave just over this - whereas if I stay then I can keep on fighting the good fight for change from within.
And then I've had to compromise again. And again. Despite the NHS reforms, despite the welfare reforms, despite the gutting of legal aid, despite the bedroom tax and despite secret courts, I've stayed.
What's more, I'm still going to stay. I'm a stubborn bugger and the only way I'm leaving my party is when they carry me out the door.
And sometimes I can convince myself that the bad stuff's not so bad, and that the good things we're doing outweigh the good - but I find it really hard to do so. And every time our parliamentarians take another step away from our principles I find it all that much harder. Hopefully by 2015 I'll have found some very good reasons to believe in what we're doing as otherwise I'll have a tough job convincing anyone to vote for us if I'm not convinced myself.
So, there we go. More compromises. Slowly, slowly, compromising on things I never thought I would. Oh, I still have my beliefs, but the purity of belief I once had has been tarnished, step by step along the way.
Of course, the most successful politicians are the ones who manage to walk that fine line of compromise between principles and the ruthless pursuit of power. And, who knows, someday I might even be one of them.
But I know that even if I do I'll feel soiled by doing so. The more I'm involved with politics the slightly dirtier my soul feels and the less clean my conscience is.
Maybe in the end it'll all be worth it and I'll be in a position where I can do the kind of good that'll clear my conscience. That's what I hope anyway because as it is, while I've never done anything politically that goes directly against my principles, I find myself tacitly giving support to things I don't agree with. And each time I do so it adds another sin, another moral debt, that I have to believe that I'll one day be able to pay off. Which makes it really easy to see how some politicians end up abandoning principles altogether - it's a hell of a lot easier than trying to keep them.
Of course, I don't want to be overly dramatic or self indulgent. I still enjoy politics and fighting for a better world after all. And I trust in my friends to keep me honest. And I'm still certain that the Lib Dems fundamentally represent what I believe in.
It's just harder than it used to be, that's all.
And my soul feels that bit more tarnished.
But that's politics I guess.
I just wish there was a better way.