On what probably passes for a hard day’s work, Mhairi Black MP tweeted: “It does not matter whether we have a Labour or Tory Government. Independence would rid us of out-of-touch Labour and Tory governments for ever”.

The first question is how Ms Black thinks she knows it “does not matter”. Perhaps she has read it in a book. She was aged two when the Labour government that ended 18 years of Tory rule was elected in 1997. Her brief status as a political enfant terrible lay some distance ahead.

Those of us with lengthier perspectives know that it matters a great deal whether we have a Labour or Tory government. It matters in every aspect of society: in our education system; in our National Health Service; in our standards of living; in the rights of working people. Many of us believe that we owe our life opportunities to what Labour governments delivered.

The Scottish Nationalists have had a pretty clear field for the past decade to erase that history and tell the impressionable young it doesn’t matter. It would have been astonishing if they had not enjoyed some degree of success. Eventually, however, the conditioning wears thin as the dubious credentials of its apostles become all too apparent. Ms Black is a case in point.

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As it gradually dawns that waiting for Godot will seem like a brief intermission compared to waiting for independence, more pressing options again become relevant. Next year, the UK as a whole will – for the first time since 2008 – have a realistic choice between a Labour or Tory government. The future employment status of Ms Black and her colleagues will depend on persuading Scottish voters that the outcome “doesn’t matter”.

Their chosen line of attack is to tell voters that Labour under Sir Keir Starmer is “moving to the right”. I am not sure this will prove persuasive. It owes more to the delusion that Scotland is thirsting for red-blooded socialism, thwarted only by the reactionary nature of the British state, than to reality. Most obviously, it does not accord with how they came to return 48 MPs at the last General Election.

Starting from a historically low ebb, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn plummeted to 18.6 per cent of the Scottish vote and lost six of its seven seats. It is entirely understandable that this is the kind of Labour Party the SNP wished to see continue on the short march to oblivion. Their fear is that a substantial proportion of Scots would be more likely to vote for a Labour Party that has taken the basic precaution of making itself electable.

One of the things a Labour government did while Ms Black was still benefiting from the huge new investment in post-1997 pre-school education, was to create a Scottish Parliament. This was supported by a substantial majority of Scottish opinion, mainly as a safeguard against the dichotomy which had arisen over the previous two decades between what Scotland voted for and what it got.

The past 23 years have divided into two periods. In the first, a Labour-led government in Edinburgh worked pretty well alongside a Labour government of the UK. Then the mood turned against Labour and the second period has featured an SNP government in Edinburgh and a Tory one at Westminster. The result has been perpetual conflict and a focus almost entirely around powers and grievance rather than delivery.

Donald Dewar’s “settled will of the Scottish people” made the optimistic assumption that the two governments would at least deal civilly and constructively with each other within well-defined powers. Self-evidently, that is not now the case. If the prospect exists of two compatible governments emerging, working for Scotland’s common good, that is something many would endorse. It would also contradict the absurd doctrine that progress depends on breaking up the state we live in.

Another of Ms Black’s bons mots – and we must pinch ourselves to remember she is deputy leader of the SNP at Westminster – is that they would “drag a Labour government to the left”. This is self-delusion on the grand scale. Just as the SNP group at Westminster is a rabble without influence over a Tory government, so it would remain a rabble without influence over a Labour government, bawling about referendums while delivering absolutely nothing.

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Therein lies the more immediate choice for Scottish voters. If there is to be a Labour government of the United Kingdom, does it make more sense to have strong Scottish representation within it or to send a protest group to Westminster with the sole aim of undermining it? What the SNP really fears is not the socialist purity of a potential Labour government under Keir Starmer but its electability. The reality many SNP supporters are having to adapt to is that the people in whom they placed faith have blown it since 2014. Whatever one thought of him, Alex Salmond was a skilled operator who took them to their peak. He bequeathed a high platform to build on at at a time when Labour’s self-inflicted weakness created a gaping opportunity in Scotland, just as it did for the Tories in England.

If Nicola Sturgeon had led a competent, radical government for almost a decade, who knows where it might have led? Instead, she led a grossly incompetent one which failed every test set by itself, as epitomised by the pronouncement from the retiring Children’s Commissioner that she “absolutely” failed Scotland’s children. What an epitaph! The challenges of making a difference were subordinated to the attractions of conflict and self-promotion, on which she thrived.

It's a long way to a General Election and even further to a Scottish one, so nothing can even remotely be assumed. But if Scotland can see the prospect of a Labour government, then its overwhelming interest will lie in being part of it. And Ms Black will have the opportunity to learn the difference it makes for those who need it, even if not for herself.

Brian Wilson is a former Labour Party politician. He was MP for Cunninghame North from 1987 until 2005 and served as a Minister of State from 1997 to 2003.