NOT that long ago the Labour Party had 50 MPs in Scotland, seven of eight MEPs and were dominant in local government. Now they have only one MP, zero MEPs, only three constituency MSPs in the whole country and fewer councillors than the Tories.

Hard to believe, but the Scottish Labour Party is teetering on the edge of political irrelevance, electorally and intellectually. No wonder there is some soul searching going on, with a growing awareness that doing nothing is not an option.

In 2019 the party suffered a wipe-out in the European elections, losing both of their seats and falling to fifth place in Scotland. In the UK General Election last month they lost all of their Westminster seats bar one, including that of the shadow secretary of state for Scotland.

Later today the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party will meet to discuss the way forward.

The National:

READ MORE: Scottish Labour set for new civil war as party 'could support indyref2'

Top of the agenda is how to deal with the “Scottish Question” about the party and its approach to Scottish democracy. Since the electoral humiliation in the UK General Election, the issue is also emerging in the leadership race to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is apparently proposing that there should be a change of policy on a second independence referendum. That seems a welcome but obvious conclusion for any democrat, given that the party that proposed such a vote won their fourth mandate with a parliamentary election victory, while those that opposed one lost.

There have been growing voices from among Scottish Labour MSPs and defeated MPs that the Scottish Parliament should be able to decide on holding a referendum, and that the party in Scotland needs to be in charge and not just a “branch office”.

These should be welcome changes to everyone who supports the development of Scottish democracy. Of course, the Scottish Parliament should decide about Scottish democracy and political parties in Scotland should be sovereign organisations, not beholden to remote control in London.

What is less welcome is the lack of considered thought about Scotland amongst candidates for the UK Labour leadership. Not one original thought has emerged from the bookies’ favourites. If Scotland really mattered to Labour you would imagine there would be a raft of proposals from the candidates.

As things currently stand the likely candidates to go on to the next leadership round include Keir Starmer who is way in front with 63 nominations, Rebecca Long-Bailey who has 26, Lisa Nandy with 24, and Jess Phillips who has the necessary 22. Ironically, these are the candidates who have not made a single concrete proposal on constitutional reform for Scotland or reforms to the Labour Party in Scotland. Sadly, Clive Lewis, the only candidate to make positive suggestions respecting the right of people to choose their future in a referendum, only has four nominations and is unlikely to make it to the next stage.

READ MORE: Clive Lewis: Scotland has the right to decide its own future

Starmer has said precisely nothing, Corbyn-wing favourite Long-Bailey has proposed nothing. Nandy has said: “This leadership debate is possibly the most important in our history. Now is not the time to steady the ship. If we do not change course, we will die and we will deserve to.” However, she has not said how she would change course in Scotland. Meanwhile, Phillips, who was supposed to be a breath of fresh air, has adopted the Tory position opposing a referendum entirely.

The National:

READ MORE: Jess Phillips: 'I don't think we should have another indyref'

One firm prediction I will make is that we will soon hear more of the “F word” – “federalism” – which is what you always hear when Labour are in trouble in Scotland. There are fundamental problems with that: A) it’s been promised before, and not delivered; B) there’s no workable proposal for the UK; C) there’s no workable international example; D) there’s no significant support for it elsewhere in the UK.

Voters in Scotland will remember Gordon Brown promising federalism would follow a No vote in 2014 and we are still waiting. He didn’t deliver it when Labour was in government, and Labour can’t deliver in opposition, so does Labour believe Scotland needs to endure Tory rule in the meantime? Where is the plan? Where are the details? Simple question 1: does Labour “federalism” mean Scotland could veto Brexit, Tory austerity, Trident or participation in international wars? Simple question 2: give ANY international workable example where 85% of the population lives in one part of a multinational state? Until Labour realises it can’t square these circles it will remain in the Scottish doldrums. Federalism in a multinational state like the UK is a unicorn. Westminster is currently undermining devolution and it is delusional to believe Boris Johnson would sign up to a UK federal solution. There is a mandate for a Scottish independence referendum and the people will have their say.