LABOUR could suffer the same near-extinction as the Tories north of the border if the party fails to return to its Scottish roots, one of the party’s former leading lights has warned.

Ex-Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell said Labour’s decline echoed that of the Tories in the 1997 election, a disaster from which they never recovered.

Already reduced to a single MP, and with polls pointing to further humiliation in May’s Holyrood election, Purcell said Scottish Labour now faced a defining choice.

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It could either rediscover its “radical home rule tradition” and present itself as Scotland’s party, working with the SNP if necessary, or limp into obscurity as a branch office of UK Labour.

He said Labour “hugely under-estimated” the damage of campaigning with the Tories in the referendum and had to remind voters of its century-old Scottish origins, including Keir Hardie and support for Home Rule, and convince them the party has not lost its political spark.

Purcell said: “I don’t think Labour has hit rock bottom yet. If you look at the recent decline of Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives ... both were increasingly seen as being a London party and no longer Scotland’s party.

“Unless we find the radical home rule tradition which was resurrected ... the last time there was a significant rise in the SNP, in the 1970s, then we have yet to reach rock bottom.

“People I know, who have been undiluted Labour supporters, tell me they don’t feel that Labour stands for Scotland any more. The party campaigned with the Tories in the referendum.

“They’re sending out messages that most people in the Labour party don’t find appropriate.

“If Labour doesn’t face this crossroads with utter honesty and courage, I believe it could be doomed to dwindling on the sidelines of Scottish politics for many many years to come.”

Purcell, 43, who resigned in 2010 after admitting to problems with drink and drugs but now runs a business consultancy, voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the UK Labour leadership race.

“His election reflects the anger of ordinary working class people who are paying the price of the recession while the banking establishment appears to get away scot-free,” he said.

Looking to the Holyrood election, he said Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale was in deep trouble.

“Kezia’s problem is that it’s almost impossible for Scottish Labour to out-Left the SNP at the moment. The more they try to out-Left them the more they antagonise the centre right voters who voted for them tactically in the past. She’s hamstrung on many fronts.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “The sad reality is no one knows what the Labour Party stands for any more. While they spend their time fighting each other - or working with the Tories to blame the SNP for anything and everything they can imagine - the SNP will continue to get on with the job. At the next election the SNP will be standing on our strong record in government and positive vision - at this rate the Labour Party will be lucky if they are standing at all."

A Labour spokesman said: “We are in no doubt about the scale of the challenge we face, but after the SNP budget it's clear only Scottish Labour offer a real alternative to Tory austerity. We will go into the election next year setting out our plans to close the gap between the richest and the rest, using the major new powers coming to Scotland."