The Labour Party has come up with an interesting new strategy for the Scottish elections: threaten the voters.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats are facing a drubbing from the Scottish National Party (SNP), due to a combination of high oil prices and anti-incumbency feeling. The Conservatives continue to carry no weight north of the border.
The prospect of Gordon Brown taking over from Tony Blair just in time to see his party mauled in his home country and its new First Minister threatening a referendum on secession is causing panic in Labour ranks.
The response from countless cabinet ministers at the Scottish Labour Party conference has been to suggest that if Scotland votes in an SNP government it will threaten the heavy dose of subsidy that Scots enjoy at English taxpayers expense. Scots receive on average £1,500 a head more than in England, which partly explains why over half their economy is built on the public sector.
It seems pretty unlikely that the Scots are going to warm to a Labour Party that is intent on reminding them of their dependency on Sassenach largesse. Gordon Brown’s premiership looks like getting off to the worst of starts.