OH how they clapped. Oh how they cheered. How swiftly they rose as one to offer a standing ovation. This is was stuff they wanted Keir Starmer to give the troops. An absolute promise not to do any post election deals with the SNP no matter what.

The Labour conference might have heard this all before from Anas Sarwar, Labour’s Scottish leader, and Ian Murray, Labour’s solitary Scottish MP. But now the boss had spoken. Three cheers for the boss.

Amidst the general red-tinged euphoria, it took a former Labour adviser to a former Labour leader to insert a note of caution. The Scots born journalist and ­broadcaster Ayesha Hazarika, doing commentary duty alongside the Spectator’s Katy Balls, wondered aloud how this broadside would be received in Scotland.

Starmer’s was a pitch squarely aimed at English voters, most especially those ­defectors from the red wall seats, was her underlying message. What plays well in Manchester doesn’t always do so in ­Motherwell.

READ MORE: Labour to focus on Union flag to win back voters, leaked strategy plan reveals

Yet this strident hostility to Scottish ­independence allied to the conference’s ­Union jack branding and lusty rendition of the UK anthem is all of a piece with Sir Keir’s overtly patriotic persona.

More depressingly, it’s all of a piece in a situation where the two parties in Scotland most obviously hostile to Conservatism and all its works seem to take greater pleasure tearing lumps out of each other rather than the common enemy.

Each has a lengthy charge sheet to hand as to why they could never, ever work with the other. For the SNP it’s a Scottish ­Labour history littered with examples of being luke warm at best to Scottish self determination.

A particular low point was the Scottish Labour Executive having to be reminded by its London overlords that party policy was actually in favour of devolution when it narrowly voted against it.

Not to mention the strenuous efforts of some Labour heavy hitters to campaign against the shilpit assembly on offer in 1979, ultimately sabotaged by a London based Labour MP’s amendment stating that 40% of the whole electorate would need to vote yes for it to pass. Yes won. But not by enough to satisfy George Cunningham’s act of sabotage.

For Labour it’s a folk memory of ­“traitors” when the indy friendly ­Scottish Labour Party was set up, and most ­especially ­voting with Thatcher to bring down a ­Labour government. She came to power; the SNP later lost nine of its 11 seats.

Neither camp makes much allowance for nuance. Labour actually and finally delivered a Scottish parliament, and the SNP’s 1979 vote would have been ­irrelevant had Labour not had three of its own jump ship. And failed to nail down its erstwhile allies in Northern Ireland.

All that may be blood under the bridge, but it leaves a fault line in ­Scottish ­politics between left of centre parties which ­often seems deeper than that ­between the ­anti-Tories and the current UK ­administration.

And fault lines within the two parties. Labour still houses high profile members with a visceral loathing of independence and all its works. Their argument is that true solidarity means making common cause with the poor and underprivileged throughout the UK, and that to fight ­Scotland’s cause is nothing more than self interest.

I’ve never understood why people can assume that being pro independence means losing all empathy and ­compassion with brothers and sisters elsewhere. A wholly insulting conclusion.

If UK Labour want to help the ­­downtrodden and dispossessed down south, it wouldn’t go amiss to devote the same energy levels currently deployed in dissing independence to persuading ­erstwhile English Labour voters not to vote Conservative.

The National: Ely Standard reader Ray Crick says the coronavirus has sent the government's good fortune out the window. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured. Picture: PA Video/PA Wire

It wasn’t supporters of independence who installed Boris Johnson (above) in Number 10. But it WAS independence fans in the Scottish Labour party which turned a once mighty movement into one which once had fewer MSPs than Douglas Ross’ rag tag and bobtailed army.

The Sarwar/Starmer stance seems nothing if not perverse. If you manage to go from 40-odd seats to one in the ­election where Jim Murphy predicted gains, it would seem to indicate a period of ­serious reflection and recalibration rather than doubling down on anti SNP rhetoric.

Yet there are also lessons here which the SNP needs urgently to learn. When Labour was dominant, not least at ­local council level, it too often became a recipe for complacency and ­occasional ­corruption. The lack of a credible ­opposition bred a lazy assumption that what had aye been electorally would ­always be so.

There are echoes of that scenario in ­today’s Scotland. It is a general given that a party in power for a long period tends to lose focus and ideas. Not least when there is no obvious other administration in waiting.

There are other similarities which a canny government should not ignore. At several stages Labour in Scotland clasped power to a very restricted bosom, allowing policy to be made by a tight group in and around the leadership.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory MSP breaks ranks to attack 'indefensible' UK Government tax cuts

The SNP seems to be going down a ­similar route and its upcoming ­conference would be a good moment to remind ­itself how it was founded on popular ­democracy rather than issuing tablets of stone and outlawing dissenting voices.

Just as Labour once needed ­reminding what its own policies were, the SNP also needs to ensure it doesn’t have an ­executive tail which wags the movement dog. One liable to get distracted by ­policies about which the average voter neither knows or cares much. Eyes on the prize, guys.

It needs to focus down very ­particularly on why it’s there, why so many non ­natural SNP voters were attracted to its cause, and why it allowed disaffection and frustration to occasion a major split in the independence movement. A party intent on persuading external ­switherers has to find a way of healing internal ­division as well.

In fairness to Scottish Labour, it was Donald Dewar (below) and Jack McConnell who respectively introduced PR to the ­parliamentary and local elections – both initiatives which argued against their own interests. And both, ironically which resulted in seats for a Tory party which had roundly opposed devolution and all its works.

The National: Donald Dewar (Chris Ison/PA)

However, the result was to shake up ­Labour, particularly at local level, and disabuse it of the notion that it had a ­lifetime right to govern. This seems to me a moment where the SNP might also take a long, hard look at candidate ­selection and election priorities where they’ve ­assumed, as Labour once did, that their vote is impregnable.

I’m no fairweather supporter of ­Scottish independence. I’ve long since concluded that it is the only logical end game for the country I love; the only route to a ­future of which we hope to be proud rather than a present which too often leaves us ashamed and open to the charge of complicity.

There are a lot of folks like me out there. A lot of people who want an ­independent nation state reunited with its friends in Europe and elsewhere. And there’s a wheen of folk who will have to fall off the fence at a referendum or plebiscite ­election.

It’s the job of a united Yes movement to make sure that they vote positively for Scotland, for our country has a good and inspiring tale to tell. While many of the scare stories deployed in 2014 will not fly again thanks to a UK Government which seems to have transformed the survival of the fittest into the election of the weakest.

But there is still much work to be done. Inside the SNP as well as the wider Yes family.

Those voters who clung to nurse for fear of something worse are having an ­involuntary taste of what worse looks like, and it is not a fate made in Scotland.