A very welcome guest post from Labour activist Yousuf Hamid:

Scottish Labour has faced complete annihilation at the polls this week and the root and branch review will now have the aim of ensuring it does not face extinction.

Today, the SNP can justifiably say that they are not just the Scottish National Party but the National Party of Scotland and in fact it could have been worse. The excellent ground campaign run from CLPs with support from very talented organisers at Scottish Labour HQ probably exaggerated our support.

Many people have already pointed the finger of blame at Iain Gray. There is no doubt that his poor performances in the debates, a lack of charisma compared to Alex Salmond and embarrassing incidents like the infamous *subway-gate* contributed to the loss.

However, this defeat was far bigger than one man.

Since Iain Gray became leader the party has adopted a core vote strategy, but not one that English readers may be used to in the 80s.

This was not an argument over tax and spend or public expenditure cuts but one of attempting to out-tough the Nationalists on crime at every opportunity and to try to appeal to our base vote at the exclusion of everyone else in civic Scotland.

In a contest which was always going to come down to swing Liberal Democrat voters, this core vote strategy was complete folly. The truth is that when I was out on the doorstep and people asked me why they should vote Labour I couldn’t give them an answer.

Psephologically speaking we lost due to the collapse of the Lib Dem vote which went to the SNP but any Labour politician who blames the result on this have their heads firmly in the sand.

Ever since the coalition was formed everyone knew that Scots would brutally punish the Liberal Democrats and yet we had an uninspiring manifesto which offered nothing to entice their voters and the messages of our campaign completely ignored them.

It is no surprise that their votes travelled wholesale to the SNP.

That is, of course, based on the policy differentials that we had left. There was clearly a last-minute panic where we adopted many of the SNP policies (many despite the bitter opposition of much of the shadow cabinet and backbenches) which meant that a large part of the campaign was based on the personality of two teams.

That was a battle where there was only going to be one winner.

We lost some great parliamentarians last night, including Andy Kerr, the former Health Secretary who would almost certainly have been the leader of Scottish Labour now if he had not lost his seat.

However, there have been MSPs who have lost their seat who would struggle to be recognised in their own streets, never mind to the wider public, and there has been a distinct lack of strategic thinkers in the Labour group.

There can be no doubt that when you compare the SNP top team to our group that they had a stronger team.

The strategy of fighting the campaign as a protest to the Westminster Government was seen as patronising and insulting the intelligent of the Scottish electorate and a sudden shift a fortnight before polling day was embarrassing.

This entire election was based on a profound misunderstanding of the Scottish public. Much is often made on the socialist history of Scottish radicals and the size of the state and the ideological position of Scotland being to the left of the UK. Much of is just a legend but as with all good legends there is some truth in it. There is a level of egalitarianism in Scotland that is greater than that exhibited down south, but is comes in many different forms.

A ‘progressive majority’ is a much derided term but it certainly exists in Scotland. Labour only focussed on the socially conservative element of that bloc to get elected and paid the consequences. It was the SNP’s ability to convince that progressive majority that they were best placed to stand up for Scotland which led to their incredible victory.

There are many lessons to be learned from this campaign and we must all now work with those Labour MSPs left but first of all we must reflect on what went so badly wrong in this election