Coalition electoral tactics
With Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Scotland, attention has understandably shifted towards the potential impact of the UK coalition upon these Holyrood elections.
Tavish Scott may lead an autonomous party in the Scottish Liberal Democrats but he knows - he knows only too well - that does not provide him with immunity from voter disquiet over Westminster issues.
Talking of which, did you catch his remarkable party election broadcast? After outlining a range of key Scottish policies, he confronted directly the prospect that Scots might turn against his team because they were in a UK pact with the Conservatives.
Indeed, he majored on the "T-word" - Thatcher, that is, not Tories. Scotland, he averred, had learned to distrust the Tories. The LibDems were about containing the Conservatives, not advancing them.
Broadly, Mr Clegg pursued much the same theme on his Scottish campaign tour today. It was, he said, 2011, not 1979. The LibDems would not allow the same "damage" to be wreaked upon Scotland again.
Tricky call for the LibDems. Do they defend the coalition flat out and against all comers? Or do they modulate that defence, tailoring it to circumstances?
In Scotland, they have now plainly chosen the second option - which is to depict themselves as the voice of moderation in an electoral arrangement driven by necessity.
Such a tactic might be inevitable in Scotland - but, of itself, it might also add to the strains within that UK coalition. Unless, of course, Team Cameron accept that rough things must be said in elections.
That prospect is probably assisted, ironically, by the AV Referendum. Team Clegg are already deploying fairly blunt language against the Tories over that issue. Scotland merely adds to that mix, seen in a UK context.
In any case, Mr Clegg will not have to face the electors until the close of Westminster's newly fixed term. His challenge is years away. Tavish Scott is facing the electorate next week.
Initially, Mr Scott seemed slightly unsure as to how to treat the coalition issue. Distance himself completely? Claim gains like tax exemption and pensions uprating? Defend Clegg to the hilt?
Now - and particularly with that party election broadcast - he has found a formula. He will find out next week whether the voters are buying.
Turning to the senior partners in the UK coalition, it was Annabel Goldie at last year's election who tried a punning gag about the UK LibDem leader. A cleg, in Scots, is a horse fly: capable, according to Miss Goldie, of leaving a "nasty little blemish to remind you of how troublesome it once was".
But this time around the Tories are attempting to mirror the LibDems in one regard:that of offering to act as a shield.
Their strategy over the last few days has been to forecast an SNP victory - hoping thereby to stir their instinctive support into turning out and voting for a sizeable Tory phalanx as, again in Miss Goldie's words, "a bulwark".
Far from disavowing the coalition to any degree, Miss Goldie talks of the necessity of curbing spending, of its intrinsic virtue.
As noted here before, two very different tactics by the UK coalition parties. With the same objective: winning Holyrood votes.