The National:

Well knock me down with whatever weighs in lighter than a feather! In the biggest non shock of the political year, Alex Cole-Hamilton formalises his bid to replace Willie Rennie and become lead singer of the Scottish LibDems Quartet. Cue background music for Things Can Only Get Better.

Has it come to this, LibDems? ‘Fraid so. The party which has spawned so many political leaders for the UK national party – Steel, Kennedy, Campbell - has been reduced to a rump, a gang of four.

Like all newbie leaders, Cole-Hamilton sees himself as an agent for positive change. Or, in his own words, a man who will find the path to relevance by forswearing the “clash of nationalisms”.

READ MORE: Alex Cole-Hamilton's five biggest blunders since being elected to Holyrood

This is not a path untrodden by his predecessors. Every half-dozen years or so they have a go at persuading Scotland some kind of federalism is the answer to our constitutional woes.

“Moving to Federalism” proudly proclaimed the Steel Commission in 2006. “Federalism: The Best for Scotland” insisted the Menzies Campbell led contribution published in 2012. “Bring Our Country Together”, said the pro federalism booklet published in April of this year.

Meanwhile these pesky lieges begged to differ, giving the F word the same sort of reception accorded to the Gordon Brown variety. See voters? See stubborn?

Cole-Hamilton is unlikely to break that serially road tested mould. He has already pronounced himself locked into the “unambiguous manifesto commitment to oppose a second independence referendum”. Don’t want to spook you this early, Alex, but have you maybe noticed how well that has worked for Scottish Labour?

Alex represents Edinburgh Western, a constituency where it is rumoured he gets a lot of support from folks who are not so much paid up LibDem types as diehard “anyone but the Nats” electors. But hey, you take your support where you find it.

Incidentally, when Cole-Hamilton took to Twitter to post a video backing his candidacy there was a suspiciously immediate response from an alleged supporter who said he would be good news for Scotland since: “Sturgeon just comes across as obsessed with independence and rarely talks about anything else.”

READ MORE: LibDems panned after Willie Rennie announces plans for federal UK

This is an opinion which will come as something of a news flash to many members of Ms Sturgeon’s own party. In fact they may go so far as to demand express evidence of this assertion.

What he has going for him is the track record of his immediate predecessor. Amongst the ritual compliments to Willie Rennie after he stood down as leader (“nice guy”, “nobody dislikes him”) was the unpalatable fact that after ten years in the top job he managed to lose 20 per cent of a five strong team.

Meanwhile, of the remaining fab four, one is Mr Rennie, whose succession of photo stunts made him a hit with the photographic fraternity, and one is Orkney’s Liam McArthur who serves as one of two deputy Presiding Officers, a role which requires studied neutrality whilst being undertaken.

The National: Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael

Cole-Hamilton’s more pressing problem is the narrowness of the LibDem support. Orkney and Shetland have been Liberal stalwarts since Jo Grimond’s time, and the current MP for the joint constituency is former secretary of state for Scotland Alistair Carmichael (above).

They get two bites at the Holyrood cherry and Beatrice Wishart joined McArthur on the LibDem benches in Edinburgh. Both of them came into the roles via working for either Carmichael, or Tavish Scott, from whom Willie Rennie inherited the leader’s baton/poisoned chalice.

In short, if you strip out the Northern Isles there is not a lot of electoral depth or width. That may not worry ACH. Whatever else he lacks, it’s not self confidence.