In the spring of 2011, Scotland goes to the polls to determine its representation in the Scottish Parliament and who will form the next government in Holyrood. The outcome of that election will depend on a number of factors, but significantly on the answer to the question -
Will the Labour general election surge in Scotland repeat itself in the Holyrood election?
There is no doubt that a majority of Scots, faced with the prospect of a Tory Government at Westminster, defaulted to their traditional allegiance. In 2007, disenchanted with the appalling Labour Government record of betrayal of their core supporters over ten years, two needless wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the abandonment of every traditional Labour value, they felt that there had to be something better.
Many of them clearly shifted their allegiance to the SNP, returning a party committed to the ultimate independence of Scotland, but it is probably also true that a large percentage of socially-aware Labour voters, disenchanted with the Blair/Brown/Mandelson gang but not ready to vote SNP, voted LibDem.
I suspect that both groups will either return to Labour or vote SNP in 2011. Any way you slice it, it will be a Labour vs SNP contest.
What worries me is that the essence of Labour - old Labour - is that it is a movement with a social conscience and an appeal to the emotions. I feel that some of that essence is returning to Scottish Labour, just as it is being lost by the SNP under the mundane pressures of government. The Party needs to re-create the sense of belief and the excitement that characterised the Glasgow East victory.
I have to say that in spite of all the worthy time and effort devoted to grassroots communication and democracy, they have lost their mojo to some degree. In an understandable attempt to present themselves as serious politicians - which they undoubtedly are - geared to serious and challenging times, they have become dull, something a nationalist movement cannot afford to be.
The Scottish electorate, indeed any electorate, are only coldly rationale in part - there is an emotional quotient, one that Obama successfully captured and exploited to achieve his historic victory, and one which he is now dissipating to some degree under the pressures of office.
The extent and impact of the opposition to Osborne’s savage cuts, with his nodding, red-haired Scottish LibDem poodle, Danny Alexander at his side, will create political currents - and perhaps a political tsunamai - the ramifications of which are difficult to predict.
Will Scottish Labour voters recognise the responsibility that lies with Blair, Brown and the last Labour government for creating the situation that led to this?
Do they realise that senior Labour politicians, notably John Reid and Douglas Alexander, destroyed the fragile Rainbow Coalition negotiations by their public comments, leading directly to the ConLib coalition that is now inflicting this misery on us?
Do they remember that Alex Salmond repeatedly and consistently attacked the economic sense of the cuts and the attack on Scottish public services, in the face of baying Labour opposition in Holyrood?
Will the Scottish trades unions, in their fight against the attack on Scottish living standards, remember that the the Labour Party destroyed the economy and bottled the chance to rectify their mistakes by a rainbow coalition?
If we have the autumn of discontent that the TUC conference seems to point towards, in opposition to the cuts - and I hope we do - then if the new leader of the Labour party plays his cards in support (which David Milliband won't do but the others might) it will probably alienate middle England from Labour but galvanise Scottish Labour voters.
To those complacent middle class families who are tut-tutting about the renewed union militancy, in the profoundly mistaken belief that they themselves will be immune from the impact of the cuts, I say - remember the enduring words of John Donne -
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
(I was tempted to quote Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous statement, the “then they came for me…” one, often described as a poem. But the wording is so contentious, and has been distorted, adapted and bowdlerised by so many special interest groups that I decided not to. John Donne captured the essence of our common humanity in his words for all time, and it has never been better expressed.)