Back to Labour Hame (already it's like slipping on an old jacket), and it's depressingly predictable to see John McTernan use Scottish Labour's obvious need to reinvent itself as an excuse to subtly peddle the hoary old myth that "The Only Possible Modernisation is Blairite Modernisation" -
"Again, Labour has been here before. The scale of the 1983 defeat, under the leadership of Michael Foot, drove Labour modernisation, first under Neil Kinnock, then John Smith and finally – and successfully – it was led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson.
At the core of that modernisation was the understanding that no seats were safe any more, the defection of the working classes and reform minded middle classes left Labour with no choice to build a new coalition. Except in Scotland, where the 1983 result was the beginning of a false dawn that has blighted Scottish Labour thinking ever since. Because it didn’t face the same reversal in its heartlands, and indeed from 1987 was winning seats from the Tories. During the following twenty years of electoral dominance in Scotland Labour never felt the pressure to modernise. Was it smugness or the lack of an existential challenge? A bit of both probably. Whatever, the pressure is on now.
Where do they start? With tone – and Tone."
Tom Harris is of course another true believer in this creed, going out of his way to "correct" Gordon Brewer a few weeks ago when he suggested that New Labour had never been much loved in Scotland. Yes, Tom, Labour racked up a huge vote in Scotland in 1997, but if you attribute that to the Blairite project rather than to an overwhelming longing to see the back of the Tories after eighteen years of despair, you're deluding yourself.
McTernan's Labour Hame piece concludes with a thoroughly baffling observation...
"The election may have been a sea-change, or a bubble. Alex Salmond may be Margaret Thatcher or David Owen. That is as much in Labour’s hands as it is in his. Who dares wins."
The difficulty there is that Salmond has already got two election victories under his belt - just one fewer than Margaret Thatcher, and indeed McTernan himself tellingly compares the 2011 landslide to Thatcher's second triumph in 1983. Precisely how, then, is McTernan proposing that Labour can still turn Salmond into the new David Owen? Presumably we should expect at some point in the near future that Salmond will leave the SNP, and form a new rival nationalist party, perhaps called the "Independence Party". It will swiftly go into an electoral pact with another party, let's say the Greens, but suffer two heavy electoral defeats. At that point the Greens will demand a merger, to which Salmond will react with fury, but be outvoted by his own party. He will then set up yet another new party called the "continuing Independence Party", but that will fold two years later after running out of money and being beaten by the Monster Raving Loony Party in a by-election.
Yes, it could happen, John. But I doubt it.