QUITTING. Bailing. Walking away. We don’t have a lot of positive language for stepping down. Even the factual “resignation” is a loaded term, given it also means sadly accepting what you cannot change. It therefore seems contradictory to suggest someone has resigned because happily she’s changed what she could not accept, but Kezia Dugdale says she’s proud of what she’s achieved in her two years as Scottish Labour leader.

Has it really only been that long? So much has happened since Ms Dugdale, who turned 36 on Monday, was elected to the top job north of the Border with more then 70 per cent of the vote. We’ve seen the meteoric rise of Jeremy Corbyn, whom she has never supported; the 2016 Holyrood election, in which her party was leapfrogged by the Tories; the EU referendum, in which she backed the losing side; and this year’s snap election that sent six new Labour MPs to Westminster. It’s certainly debatable whether this last achievement should be attributed to Ms Dugdale (as opposed to Mr Corbyn, or indeed Nicola Sturgeon), but she’s still entitled to claim Scottish Labour is in better shape than when she took charge. Admittedly that’s not saying much. It may no longer be in intensive care, but it is still in the high-dependency ward.

This narrative isn’t very exciting though, is it? There’s no drama in passing on the baton or stepping aside. This development wasn’t sign-posted via murmurs to journalists, and therefore it qualifies as sudden, surprising and “a shock departure” that must not be quite as it seems. She wasn’t expected to jump, so it follows that she must have been pushed. The prime suspect? Comrade Crimson, in the Glasgow University student union, with the microphone.

The theory goes that Jez made the most of his recent trip to Scotland by telling Kez to get lost at the end of it. That the branch office manager was all set to carry on until 2021, but her bad-mouthing of the boss cost her the job. However, it’s never been clear that Ms Dugdale ever really wanted the leadership, let alone that she genuinely planned to slog it out for six years. And if her departure has caught Neil Findlay off guard, as he insists it has, that hardly points to an orchestrated shove by pro-Corbyn forces north of the Border. Perhaps last week’s visit did prove to be make-or-break, but it was Mr Corbyn who blew it.

In the past there have been hints that the UK Labour leader doesn’t quite grasp how devolution works, such as when he slated the SNP for its failure to reduce child poverty amidst a background of austerity measures that his own MPs waved through. But last week he went a step further by showcasing his ignorance of 300-odd years of history. “Could you have a separate economic and legal system in different parts of the UK?” he pondered, during a stage-managed Q&A session at the Edinburgh Fringe. “I think that becomes very difficult and problematic.” Could this latest gaffe have been the last straw for Ms Dugdale? Her own difficult and problematic relationship with Mr Corbyn has, of course, been evident ever since she said he wasn’t PM material, voted for his rival, called for him to resign, voted for his rival again, and reiterated her belief that he would never lead a government.

Maybe this pairing was in fact less like that of manager and employee, and more like that of mismatched parents trying to make things work for the sake of the children. In which case it’s surely better for them to part now on semi-amicable terms than subject the voters to a series of damaging rows. If he has any sense, Mr Corbyn will do his best to forge a respectful relationship with Ms Dugdale’s successor – and sign up for a crash course in Scottish history, constitutional politics and current affairs.

So if Ms Dugdale wasn’t pushed out, why is she leaving now? Perhaps for all the reasons she has stated, and one more that she hasn’t. At the launch last year of The Parliament Project, which aims to inspire and encourage women to get into politics, she spoke about the importance of having unconditional support at home – which I took to mean from her partner, given her own dad was among those who had taken public pot shots at her. These words came back to me six months later when she announced she and her fiancee had split up after nine years together. And again when she announced she was in a new relationship with SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth.

Ms Gilruth is a former modern studies teacher who in 2016 was elected with a whopping 55 per cent of the vote in Mid Fife and Glenrothes – winning twice as many votes as the Labour candidate who was her closest rival. With education the SNP’s number one priority and Ms Sturgeon teasing that we’ll need to “wait and see” if she shuffles her Cabinet before the end of the year, an obstacle to Ms Gilruth climbing the political ladder could be that she’s sleeping with the enemy. Ms Dugdale may in effect be passing on two batons by lowering her profile.

In any case, her motives really only matter insofar as they inform her party’s next move. If Scottish Labour choose a Corbyn-friendly new leader, Scottish politics will become a lot more interesting. But both Mr Findlay and acting leader Alex Rowley have already ruled themselves out, and 13 per cent of the current line-up of MSPs have already had a crack of the whip.

As I write, this leadership contest is playing out like a quick-fire game of pass the parcel that no-one wants to win. Failed MP Anas Sarwar is currently the bookies’ favourite, but if the party’s members – and its £3-a-go “supporters” – opt for yet another Blairite in the Murphy/Dugdale mould, they might well find themselves back on life support.