IN Glasgow last week a senior Scottish Tory provided his election update and dutifully ticked off reasons to be cheerful. Brexit has enhanced Tory prospects; Nicola Sturgeon isn’t half as popular as we think; Scottish independence is still seen as divisive on many doorsteps.

“But what’s been astonishing has been the total collapse of the Labour vote in places we once feared to tread,” he reported. There was regret in his tone; a mere twist perhaps but unmistakeable all the same. Nothing resembling triumphalism could be detected in his words; rather they were tinged with the kind of sorrow you might retain for the plight of a once-respected foe and the passing of permanence.

All opinion polls conducted in Scotland since the start of the election campaign appear to endorse this view. Labour can expect to hold on to a maximum of three seats with only Ian Murray in Edinburgh South entitled to harbour real optimism.

In 2010 this party returned 41 Scottish MPs to Westminster out of 59 and with a 42% share of the vote. In less than a decade they have become an electoral afterthought, as irrelevant as the Greens and UKIP.

The scale of the collapse is remarkable but more remarkable still has been its speed. Nothing is permanent under the sun but political climate shifts as colossal as this one might reasonably be expected to happen over generations, not a few arid summers.

The 2010 result was achieved at a time too when the spectacular rise of the SNP was already well underway. The nationalists had been in power at Holyrood for three years yet Labour were still seen as the authentic defenders of working class interests from the predations of the Tories.

Nor can you point to a sharp and widespread rise in living standards, the usual handmaiden of heedless, reflex Toryism. In Scotland in this last decade the only sectors to experience sustainable growth have been food-banks and charity sleep-outs.

The most common assumptions offered up for Labour’s apocalypse in Scotland are the emergence at the same time of Scottish independence and Brexit, the two great constitutional issues, as implacable movements beyond their control. Thus, the party has been squeezed between two great forces of nature where something emotionally primeval has come to supplant reason and intellect. In England perhaps, but not in Scotland.

In England Labour has struggled to overcome what has been a campaign of defamation, unprecedented in its ferocity, aimed at Jeremy Corbyn. Almost every circle of the UK establishment has been roused in a class-wide call to arms to ensure that a genuine socialist is denied the opportunity to dismantle the citadels of their influence.

In the context of a global surge of anti-immigrant, might-is-right extremism led by the presidents of the two most powerful nations on the planet the UK Labour Party has indeed faced overwhelming odds. These have stiffened in the refusal of the courts, civil service and public broadcaster to scrutinise foreign interference and dark money in the Brexit campaign and the nexus of questionable relationships which underpin it.

In Scotland though, there are no such excuses for the harrowing of Labour. It’s too simplistic to aver that Labour has found itself drowning between the rocks of Scottish independence and hard-core Brexit. The party has had more than a decade to construct a viable response to the SNP that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its core supporters. Simply tacking to the right and sheltering behind No Surrender unionism isn’t it.

The party has known for several years now that swathes of its supporters, seeing little hope of deliverance from the UK reality of long-term, extreme Conservatism, have migrated to the SNP. The party thus had a choice: adopt a neutral stance on Scottish independence while continuing to fight inequality or become a low-calorie version of the Tories. By choosing the latter they have written their own perverse version of Gerald Kaufman’s 1983 political suicide note.

Several Scottish Labour politicians have joined with others throughout the UK in urging voters to back Boris Johnson. In doing so they’ve betrayed the people they once represented and stand accused of stealing a wage pretending to be something they weren’t.

When assessing the Labour collapse in Scotland this should be taken into consideration. How many Scottish voters can be sure that the Labour candidates seeking their vote on December 12 aren’t really sleepers like those who have now come out for this most supremacist and hard-right of all Tory leaders?

This week, in the middle of an election which could seal the fate of working-class communities, James Kelly, Labour’s Justice spokesperson at Holyrood, provided a microcosm of the dismal choices his party has made in its road to oblivion. As disadvantaged communities in Scotland prepare to feel the full force of incoming Brexit Mr Kelly has been working on his own cunning plan: he wants to play games with voter turnout at any future independence referendum.

Alongside the mass migration of Labour supporters to the cause of independence has been a brain-drain in the Scottish party’s intellectual engine-room. All the talent has been hoovered up by the SNP. In the last decade or so a drought has fallen across the Labour Party leadership in which all original thought and political principle has withered and died.

Its leaders during this period have fallen into two categories: those who found common cause with the Tories in ultra groups like Scotland in Union and the Henry Jackson Society and those who found solace (and fortune) in corporate boardrooms and the luxurious touch of ermine.

As the Tories imposed austerity and a hostile environment on our poorest communities they absconded from the battlefield for personal enrichment. If they’d had any courage, any measure of strategic know-how, they would have stood their ground and fought the SNP for the right to be the true champions in the struggle against inequality. Their commitment to the British union it seems was far greater than their duty to fight for their own people.

Ironically, independence will offer the Labour Party in Scotland a new beginning. But they seem either too stupid or too fond of the good life to understand this.