Nick Clegg is desperate that a "mood or spirit of retribution" towards Chris Huhne does not translate into hostility against the Liberal Democrat candidate in the forthcoming Eastleigh by-election.
He is right. Why do people need Huhne's court case to savage his party when there are far more convincing reasons?
It's not just the Liberal Democrats' spectacular back-flip over the question of tuition fees, which had delivered tens of thousands of student votes to Clegg's party.
Ever since the Iraq war was unleashed in 2003, Liberal Democrats posed as the radical progressive alternative to Labour, criticising government trends towards authoritarianism, centralisation and neoliberal economic policies.
Then hunger for political office took over. Spurning an alliance with Labour because of Gordon Brown's insistence on remaining prime minister, Clegg threw in his lot with David Cameron and George Osborne.
Ditching his tuition fees pledge at the first hurdle and championing the austerity demands of the City of London, he betrayed those hoping for something different, showing that a vote for Liberal Democrat candidates translated into support for a conservative government.
The Liberal Democrat leader is relying on a short campaign - just the minimum three weeks permitted - to enable his party's still impressive machine in the constituency to prevail.
He will hope to capitalise on Michael Gove's surrender over his plan to replace GCSEs with a new EBacc certificate in England and to introduce a single exam board.
Sympathetic media suggests that this was in response to opposition within Cabinet from Clegg, although the Education Secretary faced across-the-board resistance from the teaching profession, the Commons education select committee, exam regulator Ofqual and various arts, sport, business, technical and design groups.
The Liberal Democrats have already kicked off their campaign in TV party political broadcasts claiming sole responsibility for making 20 million basic rate taxpayers £600 a year better off and quizzing members of the public about what they'll spend it on.
Perhaps the VAT rise that Clegg opposed pre-election and voted for once in office, raising prices at a stroke, might offer a clue.
The same goes for constantly rising costs for gas, electricity, water, travel and rent, which all hit low-paid workers hardest.
The idea of people standing around scratching their heads wondering what to do with the Liberal Democrats' £600 handout cluttering up their bank accounts is a sick joke.
They and their Tory partners are playing games, tinkering with income tax reductions while driving up the cost of living. They give with one hand and take back with both.
This makes it essential that Labour should choose a candidate for Eastleigh without delay and fight the by-election with the gloves off.
It may be low on the party's general election priorities, but by-elections throw up surprises.
Every single local councillor in the Eastleigh constituency is a Liberal Democrat, meaning that whoever Clegg's crew chooses ought to be favourite, just as Labour was thought best placed in the Bradford West by-election.
Anti-government resentment, plus the wild card of a Ukip candidate could put the cat among the pigeons if Labour fights aggressively.
The economy is increasingly a basket case, with a triple-dip recession looming and the coalition united behind more cuts and refusal to invest in economic recovery.
Labour should be bold and take the fight to the joint authors of the people's growing hardship in this by-election.
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