We have another guest post today, this from Yousuf Hamid, formerly star Labour blogger under the handle Yapping Yousuf. It’s just coincidence that we’ve had two Labour guests in a row, promise.

There’s now less than 7 months until the most important election of my lifetime, the biggest test for devolution and an equally large test for progressive unionist parties.

At risk of falling foul of Malc’s unremittingly positive brief, I don’t think that even the staunchest nationalists would deny that the SNP have run out of steam in the last few months, but I don’t believe that this will be enough to deliver a Labour victory, this will be an election about the future far more than a referendum on the past.

I should say at the outset that I call it a great test of devolution not because of the importance of localism (as nice as it is) but because it is a chance to rectify the iniquity of having Conservative policies imposed on a left wing Scotland whist keeping the relative financial prosperity of the union.

I would argue that over the last 10 years we have had a government that people in Scotland, if not quite loved, broadly agreed with and certainly voted for, but now that is no longer the case and this is a serious problem that unionists should never ignore.

I say unionists but it’s not a phrase I’m terribly comfortable with: unionists and nationalists are the politics of the SNP, ours should always be between progressives and conservatives, and that is why we should never ignore the constitutional question.

The cuts which are coming are Tory cuts but they are also cuts only happening because of votes in the South of England. Scotland does not believe in their necessity and it shouldn’t have to deal with the full severity of them.

We didn’t vote for the Tories (let us ignore the Liberal Democrat votes as no Liberal Democrat voter knew they were voting for savage cuts) and the institution of the Scottish Parliament means we don’t have to have them in their entirety.

With Calman we will have more powers than ever on borrowing and tax to stop them.

Yes, we know that Alex Salmond will use every excuse to pick a fight with Westminster but that doesn’t mean that we have to be uber-unionists. In a fight between the compassionate left wing conscience of the Scottish people and the wishes of a right wing Government, I know where my backing goes.

Scottish Labour has a fantastic record on home rule for Scotland. Keir Hardie fought for it in 1888, Donald Dewar delivered it in 1999 and Wendy Alexander started the process of strengthening it in 2007.

The truth is that we are the only party to have delivered home rule to Scotland and we have a great case to make that we will be the ones who can make it work in these difficult times.

This election will be about who can protect Scotland from Tory Westminster cuts. The case for independence is now as close to dead as I can ever remember but those of us who want to make sure that in 2011 we wake up to a Labour Scottish Government need to be on the right side of the constitutional question.

We recently marked the 10th anniversary of Donald Dewar’s death and it is easy to get swept up in the romanticism of past heroes of the party, but all the great socialist heroes of this country (from Hardie to Wheatley to Maxton) all understood the importance of the constitution in delivering their socialist utopias.

There was a day when Labour politicians were warned of falling into the ‘comfort zone’ of far left politics, in Scotland the comfort zone of uber-unionism in the face of widely different voting patterns in Scotland and England is a far greater threat to electoral success.

It’s not actually a comfort zone for most Scottish Labour party members but it is a corner we mustn’t back into.