A PRESENTIMENT that Labour’s position in Scotland might soon become permanently irrecoverable came in 2013 while I was preparing for one of those referendum discussion shows.

One of my fellow guests was an activist who had become prominent in the Labour for Independence group. He’d campaigned for Labour for most of his adult life and now simply felt that the party should take some ownership of the issue which we both felt would define Scottish politics for a generation, independent or not. He suggested that a significant number of Labour supporters and activists felt the same, perhaps as many as 30-35% in some areas.

His experience of campaigning for independence was an unhappy one. He and several of his fellow activists were targeted by individuals in constituency branches and subjected to low-level intimidation in an effort to marginalise them. There was no room for debate and nothing about how the Labour Party in Scotland really ought to be preparing for the very real prospect of independence.

Such strong-arm tactics became a common feature of the post-referendum Labour Party in Scotland, as MSPs such as Neil Findlay, Monica Lennon and others were to discover. Neither of them were supporters of independence, but each felt that a mandate for a second referendum existed and that it would be foolish to keep denying this while failing to offer anything else by way of breaking the constitutional logjam.

In the eyes of the Labour establishment in Scotland, then as now, controlled by Anas Sarwar and Ian Murray, hinting that it wouldn’t do any harm to hold a second independence referendum was bad enough. But when both signalled their intention to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in two party leadership contests the aggravation increased. It was made clear to all members that an “anyone but Corbyn” agenda was dominant.

Some months later, I experienced a little of this unpleasantness as the guest of a party donor at a Scottish Labour fundraiser in Glasgow. A barely coherent Labour MSP, full of the commotion lotion, decided that one o’clock in the morning was a good time to yell abuse at me for being disobliging of the party in some recent columns.

When it became clear I hadn’t a clue who they were it enraged them further. “You know damn well who I am,” they spat, “and anyway, why are you even here?” Not long afterwards, the career of this MSP followed the party’s dismal downward trajectory and they’ve never been heard of since.

It had become evident that something poisonous had taken root in the party in Scotland and that anyone not in tune with the anti-Corbyn faction could expect a torrid time of it. The publication this week of the long-awaited Forde Report on factionalism within the Labour Party confirms that the sickness which was festering in Scotland had its malign source in the hollowing-out of the UK party.

Already, a spun narrative of the report’s contents has begun to emerge from supporters of the current UK leader, Sir Keir Starmer. They say that the chaos and ill-discipline in the party was symptomatic of Corbyn’s leadership and the principal reason why he had to be replaced.

They fail to explain though, why it’s since been felt necessary to humiliate the man who came within an ace of defeating Theresa May in 2017 and who increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other of the party’s election leaders since 1945. Yet, they still tell lies that he fostered anti-Semitism, a charge that the Forde Report refutes.

Those of us who observed the slow and malevolent take-down of a good man who was faithful to the founding principles of the Labour Party weren’t surprised by some of the Forde Report’s revelations. These included evidence of a self-appointed, unaccountable, right-wing junta, operating at the heart of Labour, who seemed to be making common cause with the Tories. What we weren’t prepared for was the extent of the mutiny from within the Westminster party.

This was a coup, staged by men and women who were scared of a radical approach to addressing long-term, societal disadvantage. It’s why the leaders of the Labour Party north and south of the Border are multi-millionaires who identify with the Union Jack and the all the other folderols of an establishment which has been good to them and which they hope will “look after” them when their political careers end.

What the Report doesn’t say, but what is plainly evident, is that several senior figures and full-time employees of Labour were effectively working to deliver a Conservative victory at the UK election.

Party funds were diverted away from candidates known to be supporters of Mr Corbyn in marginal seats and into the war-chests of more doctrinally-sound hopefuls. There was a full-time press operation designed to discredit Mr Corbyn with strategic leaking. And although the report suggests both sides participated in this, Mr Corbyn was entitled to assume that even his critics – on handsome salaries and benefits – were working for a Labour victory.

At other times, senior party staff effectively formed a star chamber, acting as judge, jury and executioner to cleanse the party of “trots”. In the words of the report, these people were also guilty of “deplorably factional and insensitive, and times, discriminatory attitudes” towards supporters of Mr Corbyn.

The Forde Report has been published just as Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak begin their struggle to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. The leadership contest thus far has been characterised by venom and bitterness and is expected to plumb deeper seams of malevolence. Neither of them though, could have done a better job of smearing Mr Corbyn and hollowing out his party with sleepers than Sir Keir’s supporters.

One of the most sinister takeaways from Forde is that several people expended a great deal of time, money and effort in destroying a man who threatened the influence of the richest and most powerful people in Britain. It’s why nothing much will change with a Starmer administration. The right-wing coup Sir Keir’s supporters successfully completed was designed with this in mind.

The triumph of the hard-right in British politics has never been more complete and never more secure.