Mr Docherty said it was clear Labour had had a “very bad result tonight” as he attacked Kezia Dugdale’s proposals to raise income tax.
The former Dunfermline and West Fife MP also blamed Labour’s “unambiguously socialist platform” and suggested Jeremy Corbyn’s leaderships of the UK party had played badly on the doorsteps.
Mr Docherty said: “The result last year in Scotland was Labour’s worst performance since 1918. We only polled 24.3 per cent of the vote. All the indications tonight are that we have gone further backwards from that and I don’t even think the record shows a result as bad as this in the 110 plus years of the Labour Party’s history in Scotland. So it is quite clear that we have a very bad result tonight.
“The indications tonight and indeed from the opinion polls that we are now fighting with the Conservative Party for second place. The swing that we have seen tonight has been away from Labour and towards the Conservative Party. And the indications we are seeing already is that something like seven out of ten, perhaps three quarters of Scots who have gone to the polls tonight have voted for a centre or a centre right party. “And the hard reality the Labour Party faces is that when you stand on a platform that promises to raise taxes for everyone earning over £20,000 – an unambiguously socialist platform that calls for the scrapping of Trident amongst other things and with the UK leader we have, there is a correlation clearly with the fact that our support is going down perhaps even falling below one in five tonight and the Conservative vote at the same time going up. And someone once described – very famously – the 1983 manifesto as the longest suicide note in history and if you bring it up to date, frankly, the manifesto we stood on is self-immolation for dummies.”
Mr Docherty said Ms Dugdale should be given another chance to take her party forward, but was highly critical of her proposal to raise a penny on income tax.
“I think Kezia Dugdale deserves a huge amount of credit for taking on, for once, the argument around austerity and choices that we make on public services,” he said. “But all the polling shows, and experience shows us, that voters believe somebody else should pay more tax. So the 50 per cent tax rate, bashing tax havens – of course that is popular electorally. But regardless of the worthiness of the policy, opinion polls time and time again show that something two thirds of Scots did not believe they should pay more in tax and you have to respect that. So yes the tax policy, amongst other things, has not succeeded electorally.”
On Ms Dugdale’s future, Mr Docherty said: “Anybody who thinks Kezia Dugdale should resign should go and lie down in a dark room for some time, because we have gone through something like six leaders in eight years. Kezia Dugdale has fought a brave and dignified campaign and has to stay and lead that rebuilding.”
But he suggested there should be a debate about what Labour was trying to achieve under Mr Corbyn.
“We have got an EU referendum to help organise in six weeks time. It is not the time for moving against Jeremy Corbyn. I think any MP or any party member who thinks that is wrong. But we do need a have a debate. “Let’s be clear Jeremy Corbyn has played very badly in lots of parts of Scotland. There are some parts, I have no doubt at all, he has been a small help. The reality is we are losing probably at least one in five voters and on the doorsteps time and time again, Jeremy Corbyn, our tax policy, Trident has come up. We have got to start to have the debate about, if we want to be relevant again and we don’t want to go through a night like this again we have got to debate what on earth the Labour Party is trying to achieve.”
Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety indicated that the early signs at the count were that Johann Lamont, Patricia Ferguson and Paul Martin were in line to lose out to the SNP.
All three politicians are veteran Holyrood members and have been MSPs since the creation of devolution in 1999. Ms Lamont, a former party leader, is the only one of the three likely to get back into parliament via the list system.
Mr McAveety said: “This a tough election campaign and tonight, looking at the early samples, it is looking as if we could lose the remaining constituency seats.
“But it is a disappointing night for me, because I have been a colleague of many of those individuals, who have worked incredibly hard for their areas. We are looking at an election where we need to continue to rebuild.
“Kezia (Dugdale) has identified we want to rebuild the party for the next generation. Last year’s results were cataclysmic for Scottish Labour. We need to pick ourselves up from that.”