"THOSE tactics worked well,” said no-one at Scottish Labour’s inquest into another electoral catastrophe. So, what did the party’s leadership expect from its curious strategy of draping itself in the Union Jack in time for the council elections? Did they think that working-class voters with a residual loyalty to the British state would somehow deem them to be a more convincing protector of it than the Scottish Tories?

Whoever decided that such a policy would fly probably also believes that dooking for chips is good for your complexion. Many years from now there will be reports of Scottish Labour volunteers jumping out of the undergrowth on the West Highland Way and startling walkers with shouts of “Rule Britannia” and “We’re Better Together” and “No to a divisive second referendum”. Until recently, in some of the more remote Pacific Islands, there were reports of old Japanese soldiers still holding out for the Emperor in their ragged battle fatigues. The Scottish Labour leadership now resembles them: a sad assortment of political fantasists fighting the wrong battle for people who have now forgotten who they were.

“Say no to a second referendum,” was the only slogan which this wretched facsimile of a political party could muster during the council elections. In Glasgow, in its traditional heartlands, there is deprivation on a grand scale and the full set of health inequalities. Yet the Labour Party in Scotland preferred to campaign on an Uber-Brit platform. The Tories loved every minute of it and reaped the harvest of Scottish Labour’s stupidity. Every time a Labour stalwart repeated his opposition to an independence referendum the Tories simply hoovered up the free publicity. The less people talk about poverty and inequality the better for the Tories.

And Labour, their former bitter adversaries, delivered for them: 132 losses for Scottish Labour; 161 gains for the Scottish Tories.

An assortment of bizarre notions have been advanced as explanations for Labour’s lingering decline in Scotland and its loss of Glasgow for the first time in 37 years. Some say that the party has been squeezed out of mainstream political debate in Scotland by the overarching constitutional question. The reality is that Scottish Labour is no longer taken seriously because it now considers opposition to a referendum on independence to be more important than highlighting poverty, inequality, homelessness, low pay and unemployment.

Oh sure; Dugdale and her deputy Anas Sarwar will point to a record of defending the NHS and opposing the Tories’ one-sided austerity measures. When it came to the crunch though, these were subjugated by this foolish opposition to an event which they ought simply to have taken in their stride: a second independence vote. We’re not talking about outright independence here; simply people getting to choose once more. Is this really what Labour is all about?

The party’s leadership in Scotland of course have all been busy plunging knives into Jeremy Corbyn’s back. Instead, they ought to have been listening to Labour’s UK leader. Corbyn is having a good General Election and is striving to highlight how corporatism, ancient privilege and unearned wealth are at the root of the UK’s social problems. Yesterday he put these at the centre of Labour’s offering to the country. Once more though, his efforts to convey his message were undermined in almost comical fashion by BBC London. If the BBC ever gets round to commissioning a drama based on Dante’s Divine Comedy they will insist that Jeremy Corbyn gets a special circle of hell all to himself. They simply can’t help themselves. The following is what passed for the BBC’s neutral reporting of Corbyn’s keynote speech yesterday.

Corbyn: “The economy is still rigged in favour of the rich and powerful. When Labour wins there’ll be a reckoning for those who thought they could get away with asset stripping our industry; crashing our economy through their greed and ripping off workers and consumers.”

Notionally unbiased, public sector BBC reporter: “Many Labour MPs would shy away from such uncompromising language; red in tooth and claw.”

(Cut to picture of Andy Burnham, arch-Blairite careerist, refusing to applaud; his plastic coupon looking like it’d been chewing a wasp.) Nice normal female Labour supporter (on Corbyn): “He’s a kind man; he’s a decent man; he’s a principled man.”

Notionally unbiased, public sector BBC reporter (just in case anyone listening might still be foolish enough to support Corbyn): “Many Labour MPs however fear, far from being the answer to Labour’s difficulties, Mr Corbyn is the problem. They fear that while he may energise his supporters he fails to connect with the wider electorate.”

Corbyn wants those earning more than £80k a year to pay a little more in tax to fund services in disadvantaged communities; he wants to guarantee the post-Brexit status of EU nationals. His plan to cap the profiteering of Britain’s energy cartel has just been ripped off by Theresa May. He wants to rid the UK of the racketeering and greed which characterise the employment practices of the UK’s biggest and richest firms, many of them Tory Party donors. His main opponent is in charge of a party which is facing serious criminal charges of corruption around the last General Election. Yet the BBC in London dismisses him as “red in tooth and claw”.

Owing to this persistent and malicious demonisation by the UK Establishment Corbyn faces an uphill task to defeat the forces of the anti-immigrant, anti-Europe hard right on June 8. But his policies and his passion ought to inspire Labour in Scotland. He has properly identified the real sickness that afflicts the UK and which continues to disfigure Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities. Scottish Labour, though, would prefer to wrap themselves in traditional Tory colours instead.

This party is at its best when it unerringly holds privilege and wealth to account. Its Scottish leadership has instead chosen to prop them up. That is why there must be a day of reckoning for Labour’s Scottish leadership after this General Election. Not a single one of them should be spared.