A valuable lesson
In politics, there is a distinction to be drawn between opposing a rival on an individual issue and ascribing malign motivation to a person’s entire standpoint.
Alex Salmond drew that distinction, quietly and neatly, in parliament as he faced questions over the Robert Foye case.
Pressed by Annabel Goldie, he reminded her - again quietly and without rancour - how many convicts had absconded from open prison in the last year of Conservative governance in Scotland.
The figure was higher than at present.
The First Minister then chided his Tory opponents. He argued that they appeared to be suggesting that the underlying motivation of ministers was malign.
“No party in this chamber”, he added, “has anything other than the safety of the public uppermost in our minds.”
Had Ms Goldie not run out of time, she might have retorted that she was questioning the practical implications of ministerial policy for public safety. Not their core motives.
However, Mr Salmond had contrived to issue a valuable lesson, well delivered. Politics is best served by tolerant, evidence-based argument.