Contemplate Sir Keir Starmer’s perpetual caution. Even after two by-election triumphs. It was described to me as “the Ming Vase strategy”. Step lightly and carefully to avoid damage.

My source’s tone featured a faint, but discernible, note of frustration. Caution can be exasperating.

Expect any such considerations to be swamped at Scottish Labour’s conference in Glasgow this weekend.

Nevertheless, they are there. It is understandable that Sir Keir feels the need to offer endless reassurance to voters south of the Border. Labour has become rather adept at losing to the Tories in England.

But that very caution, so vital in England, can be irritating north of the Border where the coming election reads rather differently. One source told me it would be enlivening to hear core Labour values expressed rather more vigorously.

Still, let us not exaggerate this. The party in Scotland is plainly backing Starmer – not least because he has helped transform Labour’s prospects and looks a clear favourite to become the next Prime Minister.

Secondly, it is firmly anticipated – particularly in Scotland – that Labour will increasingly highlight values-based campaigning as the UK General Election approaches.

But still that caution. Not least over Gaza and Israel. This week Labour eventually disowned the party’s candidate in the Rochdale by-election for remarks concerning Israel which were regarded as unacceptable.

For the Labour leadership, it revived grim memories of the controversy over anti-Semitism which dogged Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

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That is one reason for Sir Keir’s caution over Gaza. It is a key part of his offer to insist that Labour has changed – and is, consequently, ready to deliver change for the UK.

In addition, he hopes to occupy Downing Street soon where his comments on global issues would carry weight. He wants no advance trip wires.

Senior figures in Scottish Labour understand and appreciate both these points. But still that frustration. They say, in practice, Sir Keir backs a ceasefire. Why not say so, without caveat?

There is more. Labour’s caution extends to Brexit. A report from Goldman Sachs this week suggested that the vote to leave the EU in 2016 had resulted in a loss of five per cent of output to the UK economy.

So might the principal party of Opposition at Westminster flirt with reversing Brexit? Not a chance. The calculation is that voters in England see that issue as settled. Even a hint would be a gift to the Tories who would revisit their 2019 campaign which was founded upon entrenching Brexit.

Plus there is caution over the economy. Yes, Britain has tipped back into recession. The Prime Minister struggles to promulgate his strategy, hoping for better news by the summer. An indication, in itself, that the election is more likely to be in the autumn.

Labour criticises, of course. Entirely understandably. The party is expounding economic plans designed, they say, to reshape prospects for working people.

But always with that note of fiscal caution. When the Tories seemed to be effective in excoriating Labour’s plans for annual expenditure of £28bn on green energy projects, Labour dumped the costing.

Might that cause particular problems in Scotland – where Labour envisages basing a publicly owned enterprise, Great British Energy?

Certainly, the SNP hope they can mount a sustained attack upon Labour over this U-turn. Scottish Labour leaders insist that the fundamental elements of the party’s policy remain in place – including the aim of securing clean, green energy production.

Consider electoral strategy more broadly. Scottish Labour has a dual approach. Back Starmer in offering to oust the Tories from government. But also argue that Labour MPs from Scotland can play a key role in working with a newly elected Labour government: that they can, in short, give Scotland clout.

There lies the fault line in contemporary Scottish politics. Nationalist leaders say that London only listens when Scotland votes SNP. That Labour MPs from Scotland would be stooges, following their Westminster leader.

Scottish Labour leaders know they have to combat any such impression. One source told me that countering the SNP – as well as the Tories – could “take Labour’s campaign to a new level.” Meaning more seats from Scotland.

Naturally, the SNP are disinclined to comply. Hence Humza Yousaf’s declaration that Sir Keir is a shoo-in for PM. He wants to persuade people in Scotland that the UK election fight is over – and that, as a consequence, voters in Scotland who want rid of the Tories can safely vote SNP.

That is one underlying element of the coming UK election in Scotland. Influence and clout. Scottish Labour will hope to avoid fighting the SNP on Scottish identity. The SNP can always trump that.

Rather, Labour will argue that if they send a posse of MPs to Westminster, among the newly reduced total of 57, then they can extract gains for Scotland.

The SNP will say exactly the opposite. That Scottish Labour MPs would be silent ciphers – and that it is the SNP who stand up for Scottish interests.

To achieve that objective, the SNP could use a period of relative internal calm. This week ended well for Labour – but featured big challenges too. A week? Humza Yousaf has had a year of problems.

Labour will hope to exploit such devolved disquiet at this UK election. The SNP will hope to settle down and fight back.

But will Scotland play a big role at all in this coming contest? After all, Labour only took one Scottish seat last time out, with another gained in the Rutherglen by-election.

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Scottish Labour strategists insist that Starmer pays keen attention to Scotland – not least in the hope of returns. They point out that if, for example, Labour took twenty-plus seats in Scotland, that would significantly reduce the pressure on the party to make gains in England.

The SNP believe they can hold their ground by stressing Scottish interests – and sustaining the option of independence. They note too that they are in second place in every Scottish seat taken by the Tories last time around.

And the Tories? They hope for a combination of constituency campaigning, Scottish defence of the Union – and a UK party revival. Truly an intriguing election in prospect.