Willie Rennie : "As a liberal I believe that people deserve a second chance. I hope fair minded people would agree that Alistair Carmichael should be given that second chance."
Caron Lindsay : "...part of our core values is a commitment to rehabilitation."
Alex Lewis : "Fully agree with Caron. We should practice what we preach and give everyone a second chance."
Yes, you read that last one right - it's not "we should practice what we preach and not lie to the electorate", or "we should practice what we preach and not smear our opponents", or "we should practice what we preach and not breach strict ministerial protocols", or even "we should practice what we preach and admit to wrongdoing without waiting to see if we get caught". No, apparently Lib Dems should only practice what they preach when it means that a Lib Dem MP is allowed to commit wrongdoing without it having any negative impact at all on his career or on the party.
Oh, such a noble sentiment. Give me a moment while I have a Lib Dem nobility swoon.
On the subject of "rehabilitation", I believe in rehabilitation too, but Caron seems to be redefining that word as meaning "committing an offence and then being allowed to carry on as before, as if nothing has happened". That's not how it works. Some rehabilitation takes place inside prison, for example, or it could take place alongside a community sentence. Rehabilitation for Carmichael would look something like this : Admit you were re-elected earlier this month on false pretences, resign your seat, don't stand in the by-election, go away and do something else for a few years to re-establish your integrity, and only then consider standing again for public office.
If we follow the Caron Lindsay model of "rehabilitation", we might as well abolish the criminal justice system altogether, and just make sure everyone issues a half-hearted apology when they do something seriously wrong.
What I find intriguing about this display of utter desperation from the Lib Dems is that, on the face of it, their own interests would be best served by having Carmichael stand down. There would be no inevitability about the SNP winning the subsequent by-election - the Northern Isles have the strongest Liberal tradition in the whole of Scotland, and if the party made a fresh start with a new candidate they would have a fighting chance. Even if they lost, they would draw a line under the affair, and prevent damage being done to their hopes of holding the Holyrood constituency seats next year. So why are they trying to cling on to the discredited Carmichael for dear life?
I think part of the answer might lie in an Ofcom ruling a few months ago, which stated that the Lib Dems still warrant major party status in Scotland, but only because of their performance in the 2010 general election - they were deemed to have fallen short in every subsequent election. Now that they've been reduced to just one Westminster seat, the case for them being included in the main leaders' debates for next year's Holyrood contest is extremely tenuous, and it will be non-existent if they lose Orkney & Shetland as well. Call me cynical, but I'd suggest Rennie's gospel of "we must give people a second chance" is code for "HELP ME! THIS ISN'T HAPPENING!"