THE Liberal Democrats are busy rewriting history during this election campaign. First up was the ever-hapless Willie Rennie on Good Morning Scotland at the start of the week as part of the programme’s series of party leader interviews. Gary Robertson made a beeline for the elephant in the room and brought up LibDem leader Jo Swinson’s disgraceful voting record from when the party were in coalition with the Tories between 2010 and 2015. Rennie was quick to justify her actions, arguing that her voting record on the cruel and inhumane austerity policies that have brought an enormous amount of people to their knees in the UK was just a “trade”, that they weren’t a majority government, that they couldn’t get it all their own way and that Swinson had voted with “professionalism and integrity”.

Rennie’s final plea in mitigation was that his party “are now stronger for it because they recognise the mistakes they made”. That’s about as close to an apology as Rennie will get, but it’s mealy-mouthed and subjective. Try telling what he said to the folk visiting food banks, or the 800,000 more children living in poverty in working households since 2010. To the disabled, the elderly and the vulnerable who can’t afford to heat their homes in this freezing weather, or the family of the man who died in the Jobcentre queue after being assessed as fit enough to work. Or the homeless man who died on the streets of Glasgow on Sunday. These tragedies arise from greed, from punishing the wrong people, from propping up the already wealthy (and soon to be even richer) through Brexit. The Liberal Democrats should be utterly ashamed and Rennie’s correct answer should have come in one word: “sorry”.

READ MORE: General Election analysis: Can the SNP oust Jo Swinson?

The next LibDem with a selective memory was Chuka Umunna, who, on BBC’s Politics Live, argued that: “We are beyond austerity now”. So, OK, he’s new to this whole LibDem denial business being an ex-Labour, ex-Change party member, but as an MP, when his latest political bedfellows were in coalition with the misguided Cameron government, he must remember just how much they enabled and supported these crippling austerity measures.

The Libbers’ communications team quickly tweeted after Umunna’s car-crash interview that of course “the economic debate in this election has moved on from whether austerity should continue, to how we end it”. Too little, too late. The elephant is growing bigger with every mis-speak and silly explanation; soon there will be no space left at all for the LibDems to convince voters that next time, they’ll do it differently. Once you have sold your political soul for a mess of pottage it is difficult for people to resist the suspicion that you might well do it again.

The National: Chuka Umunna

It’s been covered many times before, but let’s just remind ourselves of what Swinson, Cable and “I-agree-with-Nick” Clegg voted for alongside their Tory buddies in those five damaging years in power: the bedroom tax, the rape clause, the two-child tax credit cap, catastrophic sickness and disability cuts, and cuts in social care, the introduction of Universal Credit. All cheerfully enacted by George Osborne, cushioned from his wrecking ball by the silver spoon in his mouth. Austerity hasn’t sorted out the deficit or balanced the books or got us back on an even keel; it has wrecked the UK, leaving misery and even death in its wake while the national debt has doubled. The UN even condemned austerity measures as a violation of human rights.

What a legacy.

Perhaps the entire incoming Liberal Democrat parliamentary group should be given an induction screening of I, Daniel Blake to remind them of the poisoned chalice that Minister Swinson has bequeathed them. On current form, they are unlikely to need too large a Commons committee room for the event. Because no matter how much Swinson and her party want to dress up their past mistakes as “learning experiences” or as a temporary blip, or a necessary evil for an imaginary greater good, or all in the past, then it will be up to the voters to give them a reality check come December 12. No amount of spin on continuing austerity is going to put food on people’s tables, buy nappies and milk for babies, or stop the horrendous rise in homelessness in the last 10 years.

Importantly, by the looks of their election pledges, austerity would be far from over if they’re in a position to dictate policy in a hung parliament. The Liberal Democrats’ proposals to run a permanent spending surplus would result in continuing austerity for some time to come, which, let’s face it, outside their middle-class bubble, is not a great vote winner. And it’s a heartless and terrible idea given the state of the nation. The big themes of this election, beyond Brexit, are trust and accountability. Swinson, Rennie and Umunna can’t run away from these two issues – they need to own their party’s power-hungry mistakes and greedy complicity, they need to apologise for their appalling role in the degradation and abandonment of whole communities.

READ MORE: Here's how Steve Bannon wants to capitalise on Britain's divisions

Voters are looking for politicians with the guts to hold up their hands and say, we got it wrong and this is how we will make amends and fix the mess we were part of creating.

If they are serious about being in government, they need to do so much more than a mere hapless attempt at rebranding austerity. Otherwise, it would seem the main themes of their campaign continue to be double standards – double standards on supporting a second referendum on Europe but not one on independence, double standards on wanting the Tories out but refusing to engage in cross-party collaboration for the greater good of the country, and now doubling down on past mistakes with a harsh economic agenda.

Luckily in Scotland we’ve got other options. The LibDems just don’t cut it for a country that cares about its citizens, our democratic choices and our human rights. We have had a party in government for nearly 12 years who have fought all our corners through thick and thin.

This, unfortunately, is not the case for voters in the rest of the UK, who are stuck between a rock and some very hard places. But the LibDems should be warned – despite the horrendous political choices on offer in this election, their double standards may be a step too far for the electorate. Trust must be won, not traded for power.