If you want a startling insight into the comprehensive failure of commentators down south to "get" the enormity of what has just happened to Labour in Scotland, you could do worse than listen to the latest episode of the Polling Matters podcast. The early part of the show is full of penetrating commentary about what Labour should and should not do in trying to recover its position, and it's significant that this comes from Scottish-based contributors - Professor Curtice and George Foulkes (yes, really!). Curtice is on particularly fine form, delivering what he must know will be a deeply unwelcome message for much of the English political class - namely that Labour simply can't afford to move to the right to chase the fabled "aspirational" vote in England, because there is clear evidence that the voters they lost in Scotland are mostly left-wing people who noticed that the SNP's positioning is closer to their own views. And it's practically impossible for Labour to win an overall majority without recovering a significant number of their former Scottish seats, because they would otherwise require a 12-point nationwide lead over the Tories, almost on a par with the record set in 1997.
So left-wing voters in Scotland suddenly matter. Curtice isn't saying that Labour should move to the left to accommodate them (that would be suicidal in southern England, after all), but he's pointing out that both sides of the equation are equally important. No longer is it the case that Blairites have a "free hit" in pushing Labour to the right in pursuit of votes in Middle England, safe in the knowledge that Scottish lefties have "nowhere else to go".
You'd think this would be an utterly unanswerable point, but it seems that the notion of the impotent Scottish voter is so deeply ingrained in the psyche of the southern commentariat that not even an electoral tsunami can displace it. The podcast's two English-based contributors, Rob Vance and Leo Barasi, are asked for their views on Curtice's analysis, and immediately launch into a scattergun assault, spurting out every reason they can possibly think of for why it MUST be wrong. They don't even seem to notice that many of the reasons are directly contradictory.
'The SNP didn't win because they were able to position themselves to the left of Labour. It was SNP competence in government that did the trick.'
This is just a modified version of the old "nowhere else to go" argument. The implication is that Labour can do whatever it takes to win English votes, and the Scottish problem will just magically sort itself out as long as the party looks "competent".
'Scots voted in huge numbers for Gordon Brown in 2010 because they thought he had done well by Scotland, and they came to the same conclusion this time about Nicola Sturgeon. They looked at Ed Miliband and didn't want him as Prime Minister.'
The suggestion here is that the unprecedented swing in 2015 was just a superficial thing caused by leadership and perceptions of relative competence, and that Labour can easily reverse the process in 2020 by having a better leader. The painful soul-searching that would be required in England after a landslide defeat is apparently an optional extra in Scotland, and just the thought of it is really rather tiresome.
'In terms of winning in England, chasing left-wing votes in Scotland could be almost irrelevant to the argument.'
Curtice didn't say it was relevant to winning in England. He said it was relevant to winning in Scotland, where Labour need to win because of the electoral arithmetic. You guys really are struggling with this "Scotland mattering" concept, aren't you?
'Scotland isn't really more left-wing than England.'
It sure as hell has a track record of voting for identifiably left-wing parties. You'd think after five decades that pattern would have been noticed by now, even in London. Apparently not.
'It's all very well saying that you need to appeal to left-wing voters in Scotland, but what does that really mean?'
Absolutely, do these weird people in Scotland even KNOW THEIR OWN MINDS?
'Labour can't afford to go Blairite because of Scotland? Well, Tony Blair wasn't too bad at winning in Scotland, was he? You didn't think of that, did you? Hmmmm? HMMMM?'
Blairism wasn't discredited in Scotland at the moment of Blair's election. It was what he did in office that made the brand toxic. It's no coincidence that the SNP were first elected to government just weeks before Blair stepped down as PM in 2007 - they probably wouldn't have been if he had done his own party a favour and departed a little earlier.
'The Tories are going to go so far on constitutional reform that Labour will need an English majority to hold power anyway, so Scotland doesn't really matter.'
Hang on, I thought you said that Scotland didn't matter because we would just dutifully fall into line as before? Which is it? Labour had certainly better hope that they're not reliant on winning an English majority, because the electoral mountain that would have to be climbed isn't going away any time soon - in fact, boundary changes will just make it a whole lot worse.
'Labour don't have to worry about Scotland because the Tories will get them off the hook by introducing full fiscal autonomy, which let's face it the SNP don't want, because there would be a £7 billion black hole. That will make Labour's challenge north of the border less difficult.'
Let's face it, my friend, you could have saved us all time by having "ME NO UNDERSTAND JOCKLAND" tattooed on your forehead. Or maybe "A DEFICIT IS ONLY A BLACK HOLE WHEN IT'S A JOCK DEFICIT". By the way, the Tories are currently doing a bloody good impersonation of a government that has no intention of even honouring the Smith agreement in full, let alone introducing full fiscal autonomy - which I think you'll find was one of the flagship policies in the SNP's manifesto.
Make no mistake about it - these are the siren voices of complacency about Scotland that are currently dominating the debate over Labour's future. Unless the Scottish party can make its own voice heard (harder than ever with almost no presence at Westminster), there may be no way back for it. Not this side of independence, at any rate.