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Good effort, but probably not enough to have saved party's sole European seat

WILL their spring conference in Aberdeen do enough to turn round the fortunes of the Scottish Liberal Democrats?

It wasn't all bad for them, but it's hard to see the gathering giving them a big enough fillip to allow them to save their sole European seat.

Leader Willie Rennie was relentlessly upbeat, as always, and urged the same approach from the whole Better Together cause with his "sunshine strategy" but sometimes optimism cannot prevent reality intruding.

Recent by-election results have been horrible for the LibDems and in the latest ICM poll last week they were languishing at 5%, within a point of their European election rivals the Greens (who they scrupulously avoided mentioning all weekend) and UKIP, with whom they show signs of becoming somewhat obsessed.

Unless one of these three parties can make a break-out and double its current level of support, the six European seats are likely to be shared by the SNP (three is possible for them), Labour (who look set to hold two) and the Conservatives, who should hang on to their seat.

The problem is that in successive electoral contests the LibDems have been shedding votes.

They are at their best when pursuing traditional strengths such as civil liberties and localism. In the merger of Scotland's police forces and the current use — some would say abuse — of stop and search powers, they have hit a rich seam.

But when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander restate the case against a currency union it draws attention to their relationship with David Cameron and George Osborne, reminding Scots voters why they fell out of love with the LibDems.

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