The spectacular collapse of Scottish Labour has been utterly fascinating to behold. All the more so, that this was no steady decline, rather a fairly swift transition from the preeminent force in Scottish politics to a relative fringe party.
There are, and will continue to be countless analyses. attempting to account for and explain the position in which Scottish Labour now finds itself. I would argue that two factors played a significant role here.
The first was displeasure with Tony Blair and his ill advised forays into the quagmires of Afghanistan an Iraq. I would also suggest, that whilst Blair succeeded in making Labour electable again by loosening the Party's links with the Unions and shifting the Labour firmly to the centre ground, there was a price to be paid.
The price of success for New Labour, was alienating many working class Labour voters, especially in the Scotland. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, it was a tactical blunder for the Labour Party,to stand shoulder to shoulder, with the toxic Tories in the 'Better Together' campaign. Granted it succeeded, but at what price?
Loosing power at Holyrood in 2007 and 2011 can probably, in simplistic terms at least, be attributed to the Blair-Brown effect. The routs of the 2015 General Election and the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election, could well be voters punishing Labour for the part they played in project fear, coupled with the fact that voters have found it increasingly difficult to understand what it is Labour actually stands for.
What is certain, is that there was an definite perception that Labour had abandoned the working class. In 2015 it was utterly excruciating, to hear Jim Murphy repeatedly, relentlessly trot out the same tired old line "a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories". He would also over-employ the phrase "If people wanted a Labour government, the only way to is to vote Labour".
No one, it seems, was listening. As it turned out, a vote for the SNP wasn't a vote for the Tories at all. It was the English that ultimately kept Labour in opposition in 2015.
Sadly, Kezia Dugdale's efforts, in the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election proved to be equally as ineffective as that of 2015. I suspect there was a coming together of voters punishing Labour for the part it played in 'Project Fear' and simply not understanding what Labour stood for anymore, other than the perception that they'd deserted the working class.
Foisting rejected MP Anas Sarwar on the Holyrood electorate, via the back door of the regional list, was a shameful example of holding the expressed will of the electorate in contempt. The Labour campaign was muddled, lacked clarity and coherence. Scottish Labour also failed to grasp the fact that, SNP bad simply would not cut the mustard!
Does this mean that Scottish Labour is headed inexorably towards extinction? I doubt it. Whilst it is true to say that the SNP are enjoying a prolonged honeymoon period with the Scottish electorate, this will not continue indefinitely.
Nothing, as we've seen many, many times before in politics, as in life, lasts forever. The longer the SNP remain in office, the harder it will become to retain their lustre and vitality. Indeed, I would suggest, that even with a change of leader, there has been a palpable loss of freshness to the SNP image.
For me, the SNP government has proven somewhat over cautious, and if voters fail to see sufficient, tangible improvements to services, disaffection will quickly take root. Of course, how much of a problem that actually becomes for the SNP depends on whether or not the opposition parties can get their acts together.
Firstly Labour needs to ditch SNP bad, it hasn't, doesn't and will not work in the short or medium term. Secondly, they need to return firmly to the left of centre. To firmly reject the centre-right Blair's NewLabour came to occupy.
Moreover, the party needs to reconnect with Scottish voters, who I believe by and large have a slightly different national mindset to the English. It might be that the best way to achieve this, is to break away altogether from 'London Labour' with consideration given to a name change to enhance the sense of a new begining.
The main flaw with this course of action, is that it might lock Labour out of office at Westminster permanently. There's an obvious solution to that conundrum. Labour in Scotland and in London should now embrace, what they ought to have done when they took office in 1997 and moved to a fully Federal United Kingdom with proportion representation rather than the piecemeal, half baked set of arrangements we have now.