Another guestpost  from the fabulous and multi-talented Kirsty Connell, a former Labour candidate.   Thanks Kirsty!

Now the Scottish Labour Party has new structures to start to play with, the next stage for its political rehabilitation is the biggie: choosing a new leader, one able to work with new powers and a base far beyond what their predecessors enjoyed.

A candidate to take on the might of Salmond and his SNP majority, and to galvanise and rebuild the Labour movement in Scotland, against the forces of Independence and Conservatism. A tall order. Too tall for Tom, certainly. But too tall for even this post to attempt.

Like back in 2007, however, far more can be garnered about the state of the Labour Party from looking to those manoeuvring in what is deemed the lesser race.

With Brown back then as the only candidate for leader, the party was left to exorcise some of its Blair-era demons with the Deputy Leadership campaigns, albeit beneath the behemoth of Brown’s inevitable leadership juggernaut. From Jon Cruddas on the working left to Hazel Blears for the Blairites, Hilary Benn for the intellectuals and Alan Johnson for the moderates, to the eventual Unite-backed victor Harriet Harman and Peter Hain for – well, it’s a broad church – the party could test some new directions and try on some old and new policies for size, before plumping for the counterpoint to Brown who held the traditional backing.

With current deputy Johann Lamont to officially announce her candidacy by the end of September, the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party position will presumably be vacant and thus contested. As back in 2007, the three likely sections of the party where the candidates could emerge from will show far more about Scottish Labour than the leadership contest itself.

Much like the probable eventual leader, the first constituency where the Deputy Leader could appear is from within the Holyrood parliamentary party, first elected pre-2011. Whoever it is, they’ll be described as a ‘safe pair of hands’, a ‘known quantity’, probably with the gravitas of having served as a Minister in a previous parliament and almost certainly with a safe seat, safe being frankly any constituency Labour still holds in Scotland.

Electing this candidate as Deputy Leader would be undoubtedly the safest choice for Scottish Labour, resorting to small steps instead of giant strides in progress back towards electability. Any candidate fitting this mould would have to be asked why they weren’t, given their experience, standing for Leader itself. Awkward. With Scottish Labour electing its leadership team from within this scion it will need a lightning bolt of Frankenstein proportions to revitalise the beast.

The second likely constituency for a Deputy Leader candidate is again from the Holyrood party, but elected in 2011. More daring, more exciting, more willing to embrace change and not rely on what went before, but the pressure on any individual, if elected as the heir-presumptive, could kill a fledging career. Scottish Labour probably can’t afford any more sacrifices this term.

Of course, one candidate for Deputy Leader is very openly being speculated upon, and his position, as a new-ish Scottish Labour MP would help embrace the new structures, while releasing some the pressure from Holyrood as it wrenches itself through the reforms. It also helps that Anas Sarwar is bright, articulate, capable and quite photogenic (although not as photogenic as Humza Yousaf, memo to Daily Express...).

Given the need for reforms to percolate through the party conferences, the new leader won’t be elected until December. An ongoing game then, but don’t forget to keep half an eye on what’s going on on the sidelines.