THANKS to Conservative politician Dehenna Davison, we now know why the Labour Party branch office in Scotland is in its death throes. It’s because the manager of said Scottish branch office, Richard Leonard – who struggles to be a household name in his own household – has an English accent.

The Conservatives appear to be unable to rise to a more sophisticated understanding of the drive to Scottish independence than “Scots nats hate the English”. It’s a comforting answer for them. It has the convenient effect of putting all the blame on some mythical racist separatists who can easily be demonised, while providing the Tories with a cover that allows them to avoid their own, abundant, responsibility for bringing about the end of the UK.

The problem for the Tories, of course, is that it’s not true. Anyone in Scotland who becomes engaged with the issues around Scottish independence quickly realises that it’s about the desire for Scotland not to have its destiny foisted upon it by governments it didn’t elect. It’s about wanting Scotland’s future to be decided by those of us who live here – irrespective of where we came from. And it’s about Brexit and the betrayed promises of the Better Together parties.

Hating the English doesn’t enter into it, no matter how much the Conservatives might wish it were true. If the assertions of a politician are at variance with the lived experiences of the electorate, the electorate is very quickly going to decide it’s not going to listen to anything those politicians say.

For the Tories, insisting that Scottish independence is motivated primarily by a hatred of the English is a drug that gives them a short-term rush, but in the longer term it’s going to destroy them.

The real problems of the Labour Party in Scotland are deep-rooted and have nothing to do with the accent of a branch office leader whom even most Labour voters in Scotland don’t recognise. Currently the Labour branch office has its very tiny hands full with attempts to rid itself of Richard Leonard, who shows no sign of leaving voluntarily.

His critics seek to restore the party to a hardline British nationalism which has set its face against any more independence referendums and which refuses to accept that it’s up to the people of Scotland to decide when or

if they want to revisit the constitutional question.

However, there is a belated understanding in some quarters in the British media that the Conservatives represent the biggest danger to the unity of the UK and that only the Labour Party in Scotland can prevent independence from happening. Unfortunately for them, the Labour Party in Scotland is currently in no fit state to prevent a planning application for a whelk stall, and their own suggestions for preventing independence are in the realms of fantasy.

Writing in The Guardian at the weekend, the academic, journalist, and commentator Will Hutton – who has a long-standing association with the Labour Party – argued that in order to prevent Scottish independence, the British left must not allow patriotism to be associated solely with the Conservatives. He writes of the “essentially regressive, poisonous nature of any nationalism” and then seeks ways to make British nationalism more palatable to Scotland. Hutton seems to believe Scotland can be persuaded against independence by flag-waving events which have a left-wing hue to them.

A sort of socialist Edinburgh Tattoo, presumably with massed ranks of tractor factory workers marching in formation to the tune of Rule Britannia. Because Scotland will fall in love with militarism and the royal family as long as they’re left-wing.

I’M not sure exactly how you get a left-wing version of the royal family, and Will Hutton doesn’t tell us. But then he also says the Labour Party in Scotland need to own the BBC in Scotland, although most of us here thought that they already did.

The flag waving isn’t enough by itself, of course. Hutton argues that it must be combined with, yes you guessed it, the federalism fairy waving her magical sparkly wand. He writes that Scotland must be offered “an entrenched autonomy”.

Yet this is precisely what Scotland was offered in 2014 when Labour, along with the Conservatives and the LibDems, promised Scotland that the devolution settlement would be entrenched in law so that no Westminster government could make changes to it without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. We all know how that turned out.

The problem here is that the British state cannot on the one hand offer Scotland an entrenched autonomy which no Westminster government can tamper with, while at the same time holding to the sacred cow of the British constitution that the sovereignty of Westminster is absolute.

There is no appetite in England to fundamentally alter the very basis of the British constitution in order to solve a Scottish political problem. It is noticeable that we only ever hear talk of federalism when Scottish independence is on the rise. If there really was a demand for it in England, it would be a major topic of political discussion the rest of the time, too.

It’s Brexit which has brought all these issues to a head. Scotland is not going to be reconciled to a Brexit made by and for the narrow right-wing xenophobic nationalism of the Conservatives. Hutton says that the Labour Party must repudiate Brexit, and strive for a federal UK within the EU.

Unfortunately there’s no sign that the Labour Party in England are about to alter their stance on Brexit, knowing as they do that their only route back into power runs through the Brexit-voting working-class constituencies in England that the Conservatives seized at the last General Election. Labour will not sacrifice its only chance of regaining power in Westminster just in order to appease Scotland.

Even in the highly unlikely event that the Labour branch office in Scotland managed to get its act together, all that Labour have to offer Scotland is wishful thinking and fantasies. However, there is a future for the Labour Party in Scotland, it’s just that future is within an independent Scotland.

Already, more than 40% of the Labour Party’s remaining voters in Scotland have realised that. If the party leadership in Scotland doesn’t soon realise it too, then Labour will continue its decline into irrelevance. No amount of waving the magic wand of a federalism fairy who doesn’t exist is going to save it.