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For most of my life such a statement about the Labour Party in Scotland would have been met with disbelief. In huge swathes of the country they held total sway controlling Local Government, parliamentary seats in both Holyrood and Westminster, and the highest number of seats from Scotland in the European Parliament

Today, they have lost outright control of virtually all those councils, have only one Westminster seat in the country, a seat won thanks to the tactical voting of the Tories in the area, and their Holyrood Group consists of mainly list MSP’s as they languish as the THIRD party in the Scottish Parliament having surrendered the main opposition role to the Tories.

This collapse did not come overnight, it was quite a while in the making. Looking back their campaigning message was always built on sand. Their usual campaigning was always negative based round “vote for us to stop the Tories”. It worked for a while, well the message did, even if the Tories proved more difficult to get rid off than their slogan suggested. It was of course nonsense, Scotland with less than 10% of the votes were never going to regularly overturn the 80% of the votes held in England. Labour just couldn’t ever admit that!

Even on the rare occasions that Labour managed to win we had Tony Blair adopting a Tory lite policy agenda appealing to “middle England” with the Chancellor Gordon Brown using his version of PFI,PPP, to ensure big profits for the private sector providing the finance for building schools and hospitals etc. These profits have been very excessive and the public purse are still paying out each year for the folly, long after the building costs have been recouped. We also had the Iraq War, another costly disaster.

In years gone by Labour in Scotland had some competence, never overloaded with it, but there were some good operators amongst them. Nobody would suggest that is still the case today. They are second rate, attacking in the role of being Carlaw’s parrot at First Minister Questions, mimicking whatever topics the Tory leader has chosen. 

Their leader, the privately educated Richard Leonard, struggles to make any impact other than whining about whatever subject he has engineered a letter about, from some trade union, charity or individual to give it some relevance. It’s like watching readers complaints on Watchdog with Mr Leonard impersonating  Anne Robinson, but without the charm. Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie is known as being as competent at figures and numbers as Diane Abbot. How many thousands are working at Faslane this week? She claims thousands but not even the best spy cameras can find them! She had the Russians worried for a while with that whopper!

It’s unlikely to change, the polls show a slight recovery for Labour south of the border having replaced Corbyn with Starmer but they also showed that recovery never came anywhere near to Scotland where they continue to decline into insignificance with less than a year to go to the next Scottish elections.

.During the Covid crisis the Scottish Government have governed well, much better than the Tories at Westminster , yet it is obvious Scotland lacks the full powers it needs to eliminate the virus. An inability to close the border being a clear example. We may well be looking at everything that has been achieved in virtually eliminating the virus being lost in the next couple of months because we lack those powers to close our borders to incoming, infected, tourist traffic. I do hope the Scottish Government has asked for temporary powers to do this as any refusal highlights exactly why we need Independence and sets out precisely who is to blame if the virus spikes in Scotland again, because of an influx of infected English tourists.

So looking at the current SNP success at the polls how will Labour respond? Well polls are now showing that over 40% of Labour voters now support Independence. Polls also show a clear and growing majority of Scots want Independence

So what Is Labour’s answer? They have doubled down on Unionism, ignoring the wishes of over 40% of their dwindling support base and opted to compete for the equally dwindling unionist vote in Scotland. Abandoning the working class they now seek to appeal to the middle classes. How long before we see the Labour leaders dressed in tweeds and deerstalkers?

It’s like watching a Death Wish film knowing there is no Charles Bronson around to save the day. All this is good news electorally for the SNP, it’s a hard message to sell in the schemes that you prefer Boris’s Tory Government in London to our own Government in Edinburgh.If that is the message they are intent in pursuing it might be an idea to get rid of the red rose and replace it with a clown hat and a big, bright red nose!

It is a stark lesson for everyone in politics that no matter how powerful and untouchable you appear you are very vulnerable to big changes if you lose your way, ignore the public desire for change, and side with your sworn enemies just because you hate the SNP for “stealing” the seats you used to “own”

Who knows, after Independence they may discover a new and relevant role, but it’s going to take both a whole lot of constructive new policy thinking and a complete personnel change of the current leadership.

I won’t say relax, because you can never say that in politics but I can’t see any challenge from Labour in Scotland for a very long time while they continue to oppose Independence and stick with the current poor quality leadership. To the grouse moors comrades, our new electorate await our arrival.

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