Looking into a Labour leadership contest is a bit like looking into a moving aeroplane. You can see all the different parts pulling and pushing this way and that but you are still none the wiser as to how it all works.

That said, I’m going to have a go at looking ahead on behalf of Labour. We may have Iain Gray grappling manfully with Salmond week in, week out (metaphorically, of course) but it is only right to look to the future and to what the next ‘Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament’ (LOLITSP) may bring. Or, if Tom Harris wins, the title would become ‘Leader of the leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament’ (LOTLOLITSP).

I’m getting confused already.

The two frontrunners of the Labour leadership contest are Johann Lamont and Ken Macintosh and, given Johann has considerable support amongst the unions, one could argue that she is ahead by a nose, needing only a win from one of the elected representatives or the Labour members bloc to pull through.

One problem for Labour with Johann winning this contest is that she only commands the support of 7 MPs and doesn’t seem to incorporate relations with Westminster into her strategy, presumably for fear that it will dilute her presence at Holyrood. Not that the picture is much different with Ken Macintosh at the helm, save for several more MPs backing him.

Even under the most extreme short-term result for Scotland’s future (independence), the nation will still have its issues debated and decided cross-border with, at least, defence, BoE and monarchy-related decisions partially taken at the Westminster of rUK and ‘independent’ Scottish decisions taken at Holyrood.

Labour’s route to recovery in the polls and at elections is surely through recapturing the sentiment that they are the party of the poor, the progressive party of the downtrodden and discarded worker. To convince people of this sea change in perceptions, Labour must offer up a combined solution using policies from both Westminster and Holyrood, pensions & social security for the former and employment, education & enterprise for the latter, forging them together into one message.

This in turn necessitates MPs and MSPs working not only closely together but practically in perfect harmony. Any suggestions of a split will be examined and exaggerated by a press that wouldn’t hesitate in chopping Labour back down again.

Let’s be honest though, tensions between Labour MPs and MSPs must be at their most strained since devolution began. The MPs clearly blame the MSPs for the failure of the last election, promising ominously that ‘the same mistakes won’t be made again’ while the MSPs are fortifying their power base by insisting that Scotland is primarily their domain. It’s fair to say, for example, that Labour MSPs have not given Tom Harris a fair crack at the Scottish leadership of late. Not that Tom is just lying down and accepting it of course.

How this tension can lead to positive results is beyond me. After all, when you think that the wolves at the door include members of your own party then you are in trouble.

I could go on to talk about the much-discussed problem that no one knows what Labour is for any more but that is to look beyond Labour’s more pressing problem. Even the building blocks needed to begin to stand again as a viable political party and a significant force against an SNP that is far from infallible do not yet exist. There is no energy around conferences, there is no air of urgency behind Iain Gray at FMQs and there are no policies that are rivalling the SNP’s direction, on either side of the border.

Further to this, and I don’t know if this is through a paralysis from Labour MPs at Westminster or a meek obedience to the direction taken by the coalition, but there is nothing coming out of Westminster that is being communicated through a Scottish prism. We are not independent (not yet anyway) so why are there no details of what Scottish MPs are working on? No news of what is happening at Westminster to improve the lot of Scotland? Surely this is the most important flank of a unionist group who wants to prove its relevance to a nation with an important choice on its hands, not to mention a political party that considers Scotland to be its heartland?

A big dose of teamwork needs to be injected into all of Scottish Labour, between MPs, MSPs and MEPs equally and, coupled with this, the whole Labour movement needs to be cracked open and reconsidered inside and out. That is a big ask of a party that is so scared of its own shadow that it doesn’t even know whether to support or shun a strike from workers and trade unions that support and fund it.

This faction-creating leadership contest appears to be doing the precise opposite of building a cohesive team that will go places and so it seems Scotland must wait even longer for the return of a rejuvenated, relevant and ready Scottish Labour.

More’s the pity.