I just happened to stumble across an excellent blogpost the other day detailing the most common logical fallacies. The examples used to illustrate each fallacy all relate to the bogus arguments deployed by proponents of a legal ban on sex work and/or pornography, but it was a very timely find given Nick Clegg's bizarre attempt to paint the huge number of people who believe in either independence or the status quo as 'extremists' -
"Mr Clegg said the Lib Dems vision of Home Rule represented the views of the Scottish people and argued that those who were for independence, or keeping the current constitutional settlement, were extremists.
“All the evidence suggests that is the mainstream of opinion and the extremists are those who either think that we need to yank Scotland out of the United Kingdom tomorrow, or those who say there should be no further change at all,” Mr Clegg said."
One of the fallacies explained in the blogpost is "Middle ground: the belief that the truth must be somewhere in the middle". Off the top of my head, here's an example...
Proposition 1 - Nick Clegg should be sentenced to thirty years' hard labour for fraudulently securing votes on the promise that the Liberal Democrats would vote against an increase in tuition fees.
Proposition 2 - Nick Clegg should be spared jail for fraudulently securing votes on the promise that the Liberal Democrats would vote against an increase in tuition fees, but should certainly be expected to resign forthwith.
Proposition 3 - Nick Clegg should be forgiven for fradulently securing votes on the promise that the Liberal Democrats would vote against an increase in tuition fees, and allowed to remain as Lib Dem leader for now.
In this instance, hard labour and forgiveness are clearly the 'extreme' options, which leaves resignation as the only moderate, reasonable, sensible course of action. And as Clegg is apparently keen to pray in aid the relative popularity of each constitutional option, it should also be noted that calls for his resignation represent 'mainstream opinion' in Scotland. Open and shut case, methinks - anyone who doesn't think Nick Clegg should resign immediately is clearly an extremist on a par with Nick Griffin.
Incidentally, I was intrigued to see in the Scotsman article that Clegg defines himself (rather like Ken Macintosh) as a 'devolutionist, not a unionist'. But at the Political Innovation conference just over a year ago, I clearly remember Caron Lindsay repeatedly insisting that the Lib Dems are a 'federalist, not a unionist' party. Whatever happened to that? Federalism and devolution are qualitatively very different concepts - albeit both very much unionist ones in the literal sense of the word.