From any perspective the SNP are a left leaning nationalist party - and they want a referendum on independence. On the other hand Scottish Labour are a left leaning party, undoubtedly tarnished by the reputation of the failed UK Labour government, but still the second largest party in Scotland - they stand against a referendum on independence but support devolution.
The 'proportional representation lite' voting system used in Scottish (and Welsh) elections, AMS (Additional Member System) almost guarantees that no single political party will secure an overall majority, and that's a good thing isn't it? It should be, if strong and representative alliances are made. What we see now - Labour and SNP expedient one-upmanship games being played with the sole intent of disenfranchising one another - takes little account of public opinion and what's best for the Scottish electorate. Trench warfare by any other name.
The Scottish elections in 1999, 2003 and 2007 delivered emasculated minority governments with little or no ability to push through manifesto commitments without horse-trading or unnatural alliances. The 1999 and 2003 Labour government saw an alliance with the Liberal Democrats, as natural an alliance as one involving the Pope and Richard Dawkins in something religious. This alliance gifted a small party (17 LD MSPs) a ridiculously disproportionate influence to boot - not something the Scottish voters chose. By far the majority of votes cast by Scottish voters were for the SNP and Labour parties, of 127 seats their aggregate was 91 seats in 1999, 77 in 2003 and 93 in 2007.
The current minority SNP administration has been unable to form a coalition, but despite this has struggled on, and have acquitted themselves well. However their 'issue by issue' battle of attrition has seriously stifled their ability to deliver what's best for the Scottish electorate, meet their manifesto pledges or be taken seriously by a Labour controlled Westminster; we can be sure the inevitable incoming Conservative government will not make things any easier for the SNP.
Thankfully the chameleon-like Liberal Democrats in a bizarre act of self flagellation removed any possibility of an SNP coalition by rejecting an independence referendum - an uncharacteristically assertive policy decision for the party normally defined by their lack of a strong opinion on anything. The LDs gymnastic ability to 'bendover' at the slightest whiff of an alliance with a minority government and the ease with which they backslide on virtually any policy in an overtly desperate grasp for power defines them as the political party equivalent of Uriah Heep - most 'umble, a bit grubby and not to be trusted.
But enough of the unelectable - the election of a Conservative Westminster government will almost definitely harden the left wing vote in Scotland, of benefit to both the SNP and Labour.
In that scenario, what would be best for the Scottish electorate? The obvious idealogical coalition: one between Scottish Labour and SNP? This is not as ridiculous as it may sound, it is worth bearing in mind that the SNP is a party whose current manifestation grew directly from disillusioned independence minded Scottish Labour supporters - the '79 Group' Aside the obvious 'independence vs devolution' issue there still remains little ideological ground between SNP and Labour. Scottish Labour have an opportunity that their newly unemployed colleagues in Westminster will view jealously; a chance to participate positively in the democratic process - but are they inclined to do so, or will it be more of the same old New Labour?
Scottish Labour supported devolution wholeheartedly, and were the architects of the Scottish Parliament (not literally - that was a mad Spaniard) - given that, it is hard to understand their entrenched rejection of the case for an independence referendum. If they are so sure of themselves, as they give the impression they are; the answer will almost definitely be No, if so they are vindicated. If the people say Yes - surely Scottish Labour would want to be seen as willing partners in the process of forming an independent Scotland?
The electorate of an independent Scotland will almost definitely deliver a Scottish Labour government at some point post-independence, and short of an intention to reenact the Act of Union upon election, which the vestigial UK may not be too keen on, Scottish Labour will be part of an independent Scottish civic society - like it or not.
Come what may Labour should participate meaningfully in the National Conversation now, what do they have to lose? It's pretty one-sided as it is. Not to do so just confirms a petulant inability to accept reality and is a derogation of their duty to their voters. The independence itch will not disappear until we have a referendum - and without meaningful participation Labour are destined to continue playing electoral ping pong with the SNP whilst losing voters and further eroding their credibility.
Scottish Labour; for the sake of representing your supporters and the cause of worthwhile devolved Scottish governance - stop licking your wounds and get on with playing a positive role in Scotland's future, whatever that future may be...