THE passing of Labour in Scotland draws near. Is there no one left to mount an extinction rebellion?

As the family gathers to witness the last rites the recriminations quietly begin. Why after 12 years did the distress signals go unheeded? Of those who once declared their love for the patient why did none intervene? Perhaps Holyrood silver and a lifestyle once considered beyond their dreams had anaesthetised these town-criers and civic officers.

At last the UK leadership has come to realise that its prospects of winning the next Westminster election rest on a recovery in Scotland. John McDonnell’s announcement yesterday that Labour no longer opposes an independence referendum acknowledges that a recovery won’t happen until the party in Scotland ditches its bizarre obsession with upholding the Union.

While Scottish nationalists proclaim the findings of Unionist Lord Ashcroft’s poll, Labour was tip-toeing out the back door hoping no-one would notice. His Lordship’s poll is rightly being seen as a breakthrough moment for the Yes movement. For Labour in Scotland, though, it was a source of bitter regret. It’s now reckoned that more than 40% of Labour voters favour self-determination. And it confirmed what many suspect: that the Defence Minister of Burkina Faso has a higher recognition factor than the leader of Scottish Labour.

The Ashcroft poll follows others that point to another Labour wipe-out in Scotland at the next election. Soon, there will be so few Labour representatives in Scotland that the party will be requiring snookers to recoup its deposits. McDonnell’s announcement wasn’t surprising; it was inevitable. It also surely spells the end of Richard Leonard’s tenure as leader of the party in Scotland. It should also signal a much-needed clear-out of the cast of executive incompetents who have brought it to the edge of the abyss.

Scottish Labour’s demise could be made palatable if it were regarded as an unfortunate but inevitable quirk of the tumultuous political events that currently swirl around it.

READ MORE: Labour at war over indyref2 as McDonnell promises not to block a new referendum

Scottish politics, already polarised by the constitution, has grown ever more so by the treacherous currents of Brexit. As such you might argue that Labour in Scotland is a victim of circumstances it can barely control. None of these, though, explain why Labour has been in retreat for 12 years.

Once, you could have argued that the SNP under the adroit tutelage of Alex Salmond occupied Labour’s territory and annexed many of its most reliable policies. Labour though, has had a decade or so to construct a defence and mount a comeback, even the semblance of one. None has been forthcoming and there are several compelling reasons for this. The SNP consistently produce a higher quality of politicians in policy areas that were once the exclusive preserve of Labour and the party have been lazy and negligent in electing a series of weak and unconvincing leaders.

Along the way there has been a degree of misfortune. Following the rebirth of the Scottish Parliament its most influential Scottish players treated it with disdain and chose to feed at Westminster’s trough rather than grace Holyrood with their high presences.

Even when Labour in Scotland was sending up the distress signals in 2011 these big beasts continued to disparage Holyrood and treat the party’s contingent there as an inferior breed. Yet, they all came roaring back during the time of the first referendum. This you felt was less about defending the Union and more about preserving an anointed and gilded lifestyle in London at the mother of all parliaments. So eager were they to uphold the Union that for the best part of a year there was no Labour Party in Scotland, only a pathetic satellite of the Conservative and Unionist Party and the UK establishment.

Thus, although around 30% of Scottish Labour voters were reckoned to be supporters of Scottish independence they were treated as lepers by local party juntas.

Many of these were Westminster placemen who cared more about touching the hems of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling than about the future of Labour in Scotland. Brown and Darling and some of their Westminster aristocrats have since been well rewarded by the interests they served during the independence referendum.

The National: Gordon Brown

The baubles and trinkets of a grateful British establishment have been conferred upon them and entry into the hallowed halls of high finance has duly followed. The damage they wrought on the party in Scotland during that wretched period between 2013 and 2014 was devastating. The shadow chancellor’s long overdue pronouncement on Scottish independence might now repair some of that damage.

Those 40% of Scottish Labour supporters who now also favour independence hold the key to the party’s salvation, but the current wizened husk that it has become must first be allowed to die. Only when Scottish Labour’s internal structures and executive suites are dismantled and banished can this party re-emerge. If it insists on wrapping itself in the Union Jack once more in a referendum which looks increasingly likely to deliver Yes, their chances of governing in a post-independent Scotland will be dead. John McDonnell knows this.

If instead they heed the message of salvation which is coming from many of its own people then it might yet have a bright future after independence.

What is the worst that could happen? Are its pro-Union supporters so in thrall to the British state that they would vote Tory or a Liberal Democrat party now led by a watered-down facsimile of a Tory? They still choose to parrot the shrill mantra of Theresa May and Gordon Brown of a strong and stable UK and nasty and divisive Scottish nationalism. Nothing, though, will prepare them for the nastiness and divisiveness of post-Brexit Britain.

The narrative of politicians like Douglas Alexander of Labour values being universal was once compelling. In this the need to join with working-class communities in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham were held to be more sacred than selfish self-determination.

Yet, the same argument of universalism can now be made to support an independent Scotland. For, if those values are truly universal and able to unite alienated communities throughout the world then they are surely sufficiently strong to endure the break-up of a kingdom which is already grievously divided.

This kingdom has now fallen to an extreme right-wing coup backed by corporate cartels implacably opposed to sharing the world’s resources.

An independent Scotland reaching out to the world instead of retreating from it would provide the springboard for the values of universal socialism to be rekindled in these islands.

Labour’s UK leadership knows its hopes of defeating Boris Johnson rest on regaining those fiefdoms which hated watching Labour in Scotland march to the tune of the Tories.