The furious reaction of Dunc "don't call me Dunc" Hothersall is probably sufficient to tell you that Keiran Pedley may be on to something in suggesting that, because Labour's only hope of regaining power at UK level depends on a deal with the SNP, it would be better to conclude that deal in advance of a general election and then sell it to the English people. Nothing's inevitable, of course, as the bogus claims of "absolute certainty" about the result of this month's Holyrood election proves. I can just about imagine a scenario in which Labour might return to being competitive in Scotland by 2020 - it would depend on the constitutional issue fading from people's minds, and on Jeremy Corbyn being replaced by a charismatic leader who looks set to sweep the hated Tories from office. In those circumstances, the Scottish electorate's priorities might change. But the overwhelming likelihood is that one of three things will happen -
1) Corbyn will remain leader.
2) Corbyn will be replaced by someone of like mind, such as John McDonnell (who admittedly is more charismatic, but is still regarded as unelectable in England).
3) Corbyn will be replaced by a bland, uninspiring identikit centrist politician in the mould of Ed Miliband or Andy Burnham.
If that's the case, Pedley is surely right in saying that the game's a bogey for Labour in Scotland. But what intrigues me - and what Pedley doesn't address - is the electoral consequences of any deal. If we're talking about a formal pre-election Labour-SNP pact to keep the Tories out, how could the two parties justify putting up candidates against each other? Labour in particular would find it very difficult to pitch for votes in seats that are already held by the SNP - which is virtually every seat in Scotland. Logic would therefore seem to dictate that they should practically sit out the election north of the border.
Ironically, that would probably benefit only the Tories. The former Labour heartlands are highly likely to vote SNP anyway, and the absence of Labour candidates would simply lead to bigger majorities in seats that were never in doubt. But in heavily No-voting areas like the Borders and the rural north-east, the SNP could arguably do with Labour opposition to help split the unionist vote and keep the Tories out.
If an anti-Tory pact isn't going to prove counterproductive, the details are going to need some careful thought.