I see the spirit of Peter Mandelson still lives on in the Labour Party. Their dirty tricks department did their best this week to make out that I would have voted for 18 years of Thatcherism. And that I’d vote for it now.

That is a lie.

It is based on a statement I made in a debate in the House of Commons on July 23 where I said I understood why SNP MPs in 1979 voted for a motion of no confidence in the Callaghan government and had I been there at that time I might have done the same. At that time, I was a young Labour activist and, like many in the party, disillusioned with the Callaghan Labour government.

Let’s be clear the Callaghan government was on its last legs by March 1979. Down to 306 seats out of 635. It had lost the support of the liberals with whom it had been in coalition for most of the term.

It had betrayed public sector unions in the winter of discontent. It had lost the support of republican and nationalist MPs in Northern Ireland. And by then it was set to betray the people of Scotland by refusing to legislate for devolution which had been voted for in a referendum earlier that year.

Had Callaghan agreed to bring in a Scotland Bill as promised in the Labour manifesto the SNP would have supported him. But by then he was almost out of time anyway.

It’s doubtful a bill could even have been got through in the months that remained of the parliamentary term – especially as some in the Labour ranks would have gone out of their way to sabotage it.

The National:

At best Callaghan might have lasted a few more months but his card was well and truly marked. In many ways the vote of no confidence on March 28, 1979 was a mercy killing.

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The vote of no confidence did lead to a General Election but to say that means those who voted against the government were supporting the Tories is a shocking distortion.

It wasn’t that vote that brought in Thatcher – it was the General Election of May 1979 when the people of the UK voted for her.

And they did so in large part because of the right-wing Callaghan government that had left so many traditional Labour supporters disenchanted (remind you of anything?).

The Tories went on to the win a further three elections and Labour failed to beat them every time. Even though the people of Scotland never voted in a majority for the Tories, they had to endure them because of Labour’s betrayal of devolution.

It’s a bit rich for Labour politicians – and right-wing Labour politicians at that – to accuse the SNP of supporting the Tories. It has been Labour votes over the last eight years that have supported the Tories in bombing Syria, replacing Trident, welfare caps and restricting the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

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But history serves as a warning. Labour should know that they cannot take Scottish votes for granted. I will do everything I can to get, and keep, the Tories out of office.

And I will support a minority Labour government if that’s the choice the electorate give us – just like the SNP did between 1974 and the 28th March 1979. But I won’t be keeping them in power forever if they renege on their promises to ordinary people north or south of the border.