I've just caught up with Caron Lindsay's defence of Tavish Scott's now-infamous performance on Newsnight Scotland earlier in the week. She broadly blames the meltdown on Gordon Brewer's impertinent questions (© Peter Cook). But, to put it mildly, a few points simply aren't stacking up -
"We can't pretend that the UK coalition doesn't exist - and nor do we want to, to be honest. It ain't perfect, but at least we're delivering Lib Dem policies..."
Which is fine, but if you want to credibly share the credit for the supposedly good things the coalition have done, you have to do one of two things in relation to the somewhat less good things they've also done - either a) back them up and take the flak for them, or b) condemn your southern colleagues for the mistakes they've made. What you can't reasonably do is say "if you like things the London Lib Dems have done, ask me and I'll tell you all about it, but if you don't like things they've done, for heaven's sake go and ask them - nothing to do with me, guv".
Caron goes on -
"Nor is he a member of the UK Parliament and as such is not responsible for the actions of our Scottish MPs and how they might have voted on tuition fees."
Well, I think he kind of is responsible for it when one of those Scottish MPs (Jo Swinson) is his own deputy as party leader, and when every single one of them was elected on the "Scottish Liberal Democrat" ticket last year. If Caron doesn't want the Scottish Lib Dem chief to be held to account for these people's actions, perhaps instead of moaning about an interviewer asking perfectly logical questions she should press for future Lib Dem candidates in Scottish Westminster contests to stand on a "British Liberal Democrat" label instead? Indeed, in relation to the Higher Education issue it would be more logical for them to go the whole hog and stand on an "English Liberal Democrat" label, given that Swinson, Bruce, Alexander and Moore voted through higher tuition fees for English students alone.
"One other low point was Brewer's line of questioning on a press release our George Lyon had put out attacking Labour for shifting position on closure of Accident and Emergency Units at Monklands and Ayr. What George was doing was rightly to point out the opportunism of the Labour party bending over backwards to be on the same page as the SNP in this election. Yes, Liberal Democrats were in the Government which attempted to close those units, but doing so was a Labour initiative, when Andy Kerr, Labour's current finance spokesman, was health minister."
Brewer was in fact making a very straightforward point - that Lyon was being hypocritical in criticising Labour for making a U-turn and supporting an SNP policy when the U-turn the Lib Dems have made on the same topic is identical. Literally identical. They supported the A&E closures in government (it doesn't matter if it wasn't their original idea because it couldn't have gone through without their backing) and now they support the SNP's popular decision to keep those departments open. That fact is absolutely irrefutable, which is why Tavish looked so foolish in trying to deny it, and indeed initially pretending that he didn't understand the question. He'd have been far better off simply distancing himself from Lyon's view.