Blairism lives on north of the border, not in the person of Jim Murphy, as you might imagine, but in the person of Nicola Sturgeon. During the 1980s, the 79 Group (which included Alex Salmond) attempted to shift the SNP to the left, mirroring a similar generational struggle in the Labour party, and were temporarily expelled for their pains. In the 1990s, again mirroring developments in Labour, the SNP combined neoliberal economic policies with superficially progressive social policies. But where New Labour "triangulated" from centre-left to centre-right, the SNP moved in the opposite direction, pitching themselves as a more principled opposition to the anglocentric Tories than Labour, hence the emblematic importance of nuclear disarmament and (later) opposition to the Iraq War.
Salmond was probably a more genuine socialist than Blair in the 80s, but his (and others) more recent claim that Scotland is a fundamentally social democratic country is self-serving. The conservative interest in Scotland did not simply evaporate under Thatcher, nor did it shift to Labour. It migrated to both the LibDems and the SNP, once the latter made clear its acceptance of the neoliberal order and its willingness to engage with limited devolution. This is why the result of the independence referendum was all too predictable. The Labour voters that Salmond attracted to "yes" were outweighed by the middle-class SNP voters who quietly chose "no" to protect their economic interests as sterling-based pensioners and rentiers.
Centre-left English observers continue to kid themselves that the SNP is keeping alive the social democratic flame. Commenting on the new Scottish Government Economic Strategy document, Owen Jones cheerfully claims "they have abandoned their flirtation with Osbornomics by dropping their pledge to cut corporation tax", when all they've done is replace a "blanket" cut with a more "targeted" approach. They are still keen on "tax competition" (i.e. regulatory arbitrage) as a means of attracting foreign investment, which means capital-friendly taxation. They're not proposing to increase corporation tax, capital gains tax or the tax on dividends; while their preference for cuts in VAT is to reduce the rate for tourism (i.e. a business-friendly stimulus) rather than the daily goods that Scots buy. It takes a heroic disregard for the facts to characterise the SNP as social democratic.
A better gauge of the party's attitude is the frequency of the word "competitiveness" in the executive summary of the strategy document. With all the usual buzzwords about "human capital investment", "innovation" and "inclusive growth", this is indistinguishable from the output of a New Labour thinktank. "Internationalisation" occurs a lot; "nationalisation" is conspicuous by its absence. The focus of investment is "SMEs with high growth potential", which is a fool's errand. The SNP's instincts remain centrist and opportunistic, eliding tricky subjects such as the strategic prospects of the oil industry or the over-dependence on the financial sector. As Martin Kettle notes, they are as likely to ostentatiously hold their noses, plead the "national interest of Scotland", and support a minority Tory government after May as a Labour one, though he fails to spell out that this is because the SNP have emulated his hero Blair: "make your compromises in advance by broadening your party tent".
Since devolution in 1999, the Scots have voted differently in Scottish and UK elections. Tactical voting has become habitual. The oscillation in the popular vote has seen Labour gain a bonus of around 10% in general elections relative to its share in elections to the Scottish Parliament. Some of this comes at the expense of the SNP, but some also comes from the "others" - Socialists, Greens and independents - who have accounted for between 11% and 22% in Scottish elections (compared to under 5% in general elections). The Lib Dems have also gained a bonus, though a more variable one of between 4% and 11%. This is more likely to be predominantly SNP voters. The Tories' share of the popular vote saw negligible movement between Scottish and UK elections (indicating a hard-core of about 16%) until 2010 when the bonus was just under 3%, suggesting that the SNP had attracted 2-3% from the Tories in the Scottish election of 2007, increasing to 3-4% in 2011 (i.e. about a fifth of the Tory core vote shifts to the SNP in Holyrood elections).
As the SNP vote in elections to the Scottish Parliament has grown, so their discount in UK elections (i.e. the amount of the total vote that then deserts them) has increased, reaching 9% in 2010. The question is whether 2015 will "break the mould", shrinking this discount and keeping SNP support above 40%. I think this is unlikely. Despite the post-referendum bounce and Labour's troubles, I doubt the Scottish electorate will dispense with tactical voting altogether. This is still likely to produce a discount, even if the SNP benefits from greater tactical voting by former LibDems. The 44% secured by the SNP in 2011 looks like a high-water mark; and a proxy for the "yes" vote in 2014, with "no" voting SNPers offset by "yes" voting Labourites.
Though Labour's vote in Scotland will be down, I suspect it will be closer to 33% than the current prediction of 27%. Jim Murphy hasn't been parachuted in because he is attractive to Scottish voters, but because he has the tactical and organisational nous to engineer a late surge and get the vote out. The SNP share of the popular vote will probably be closer to 38% than the current, frothy 46%. If Murphy can "do a Netanyahu" and get the Labour vote up to 35%, the higher concentration of Labour votes in urban constituencies may mean the shift in seats to the SNP will be less dramatic than the pollsters predict, and Labour could still be the largest party at Westminster.
A lot of the anecdotal evidence of the turn against Labour points to the disgust of long-time supporters seeing the party share a platform with the Tories during the referendum. Some of this will dissipate come the ballot, not least because the UK-wide campaign will heighten the antipathy between Labour and the Conservatives and accentuate the material policy differences. If emotion can drive supporters away, it can also attract them back. The more anti-working class the Tories are seen to be during the general election campaign, the more likely that Scottish working class voters will cleave to Labour. It is anti-Tory middle class Scottish voters who are likely to cleave to the SNP, which is why the LibDems in Scotland face a greater existential threat than Labour.
There also appears to be a belief that as Labour has abandoned "socialism", which for many Scots simply means being pro-working class, there is little to be lost in voting for the SNP. Though the nationalists may be less "left" than they advertise, they will be sensitive to local demands and might hold Labour's feet to the fire in a coalition (the Tory posters suggesting that a vote for the SNP will result in a Labour-led coalition may be counter-productive). This belief combines both emotion and calculation - the underlying assumption being that most Scottish voters want a Labour-SNP coalition - but I suspect it's a minority view, and largely the product of media speculation. Labour's bigger worry is deserters rather than turn-coats, in other words their chances depend on getting out the vote.
Some English and Welsh voters, seduced by the myth of a social democratic SNP, may find the idea of a Labour-SNP coalition attractive, even though their assumption that the nationalists would act as an egalitarian conscience isn't consistent with either the party's neoliberal policies or its likely strategy. As an anti-UK party, they aren't going to be seduced into formal coalition like the LibDems: ministerial Daimlers would not go down well in Scotland. Instead, they will achieve more by offering vote-by-vote support in return for a series of staggered concessions throughout the Parliament. Ironically, a Labour administration dependent on the SNP could find itself edging leftwards in order to create some space between it and the nationalists, but don't bet on it. Insofar as Ed Miliband has a project, it is to put a kinder face on an already compromised neoliberal order, which post-2008 looks unimaginative at best and craven at worst. Without an outright majority, he is unlikely to commit to anything braver.
The chance of a longer-term recovery for Labour in Scotland depends on flushing out the SNP as the real heirs of Blair, but that can only happen if Labour in England makes a clean break with the Blairite past. Until then, the SNP have the luxury of being able to punt a neoliberal agenda, with suitably progressive adornments such as the cancellation of Trident, while attacking Labour for the legacy of their multimillionaire former leader. Assuming the LibDems implode in May, Labour could confront the Blairites confident that a centrist breakaway, a la the SDP, is an empty threat, but if the party fails to secure a majority, the Blairites will be emboldened. We could then end up with a post-Blair but still neoliberal Labour party in England and Wales and a noticeably similar SNP in Scotland. This could even become a fixture of the political landscape, like the CDU and CSU in Germany. The prospect of a less (or post-) neoliberal Labour party depends on an outright majority in May. The chief threat to that is the relative success of the "social democratic" SNP in Scotland, and the extent to which the turn against Labour that it has championed influences sentiment in the North of England.