The resignation of Scottish Labour party leader, Johann Lamont, has plunged the Scottish party back into one of its periodic bouts of crisis.
Lamont, long an advocate for greater devolution for the Scottish Parliament and more autonomy for the Scottish party, was said to be furious that national chiefs treated Scotland like a “branch office”.
The final straw came earlier this week with the enforced departure of the Scottish party’s general secretary, Ian Price.
Recruited last year to lead its referendum campaign and drive forward efforts to reform the fractious party, he was already sidelined by July, when the party’s respected former North West regional director, Sheila Murphy, was asked by Ed Miliband to step in and manage the campaign instead.
The view from London is that Labour cannot take the chance that a resurgent SNP will burrow into its vote and put seats at next year’s general election in jeopardy.
However it was clear from the result of the referendum, with places like Glasgow voting for independence, that Labour’s support base in working-class Scotland has been shaken.
The party’s indelicate treatment of Lamont and Price reflects the fact it does not want to have to spend time and precious resources campaigning in seats that Labour should easily win.
In her resignation interview with the Daily Record, Lamont warns her colleagues that “the focus of Scottish politics is now Holyrood, not Westminster” and that too many of them, both in Scotland and London “do not understand the politics they are facing”.
That may be so, but the party’s focus is holding on to what it currently has next May and many will be privately relieved at the chance of a fresh start.