Almost everyone I know who knows, or has met, "Kez" Dugdale reports that the common perception of her as a fundamentally decent person who's in politics for all the right reasons, but has, through no fault of her own, found herself in a position she is intellectually and emotionally unequipped for, is wrong.
"Spiteful","unpleasant" and "bitter" are but a few of the adjectives I've heard. One Slabber remarked that the more one gets to know "Kez", the less likeable she becomes. It is well-known that she begged a senior Nationalist MSP for a job with the National party, and has nurtured a well-stoked jealous rage ever since being rejected.
One always takes these reports with a pinch of salt. Some of them are from people on the opposite side of politics (Dugdale is an extreme-Right wing Loyalist; most people I know would be on the nationalist Left); some on the rival wing of her party (a rivalry almost more bitter than the inter-party one).
But the latest slither in her descent came today when she appointed the political editor of the extreme Right-wing Daily Mail newspaper as her new communications chief.
The editor in question, one Alan Roden, has carved himself out a spot as the most hysterically SNPbad voice in the Scottish media - quite an allocade in a Scottish press corps not entirely short of anti-"Nat" voices.
Now, it's up to "Kez" to appoint her team. One cannot help but wonder, however, the thought processes that led to Scottish Labour being prodded into its state of near extinction by the perception that it is indistinguishable from orthodox hard-line Conservatism, and come to the conclusion that the best way to combat that is to hire arguably the furthest-Right parliamentary correspondent in Scotland, from a newspaper which has sung the praise of the Conservative party in Scotland since time immemorial (like, apart from the time it supporter your actual fucking Hitler), recommending a Tory vote in May's election.
(It is an ironic twist that Roden's vocal support of the Conservatives in his piss-poor editorial shriekings would almost certainly leave him barred from membership of the Scottish Labour party - their membership is dealt with in London and they have no say in the matter - for which he now works).
The Mail has long been associated with stridently racist editorialising, with its Scottish edition being only slightly weaker fare. It is, of course, a matter for what is left of Scottish Labour to select its own staff, and one mustn't interrupt one's enemy (and make no mistake, despite its weakened position, the Scottish Labour party remains the most virulent and implacable enemy of Scotland) when they are making a mistake, but to imagine that an individual who had a fit of hysterics at even the milksop social democracy that a barely-embarrassed Dugdale tried to punt in May can be seen as credible when he, in turn, tries to spin it, is so far fetched as to imagine that Dugdale might one day be a minister.
But catastrophic staffing appointments are hardly new for Scottish Labour, and are - in the main - to be welcomed.
However, the appointment of the repulsive Roden to the top of Scottish Labour is an exception to the rule.
His violently homophobic editorials and articles are not just sickening and wrong - they are dangerous.
Roden's new-found fans in Scottish Labour were at pains today to point out that Roden himself isn't a homophobe, or a racist, but that he only wrote all of those homophobic and racist articles because it's the Daily Mail that's bad (as if a newspaper is some sort of sentient being, and not the sum of its journalists).
In a way, that's worse. To know that racism and homophobia is dangerous and wrong, but to do it anyway is more vile, on an exponential scale, than to rant bigotry in ignorance. To use the dog whistle to sell papers and increase your profile, heedless of the expense of human suffering, is disgusting.
When people like Alan Roden write dog-whistle gay-bashing articles, gay people get hurt. Gay kids at school get bullied. They get beaten up.
Mr Roden, when you write your gay-bashing articles, they embolden the bigots. The thugs think (perhaps, in fact, they realise that they're backed up by the great and good in life), and the result of your articles are that gay people die in homophobic attacks.
Kezia Dugdale is soon due to take advantage of the Scottish government's welcome, if overdue, legislation giving gay people full equality in every sphere of public life to marry her partner. I wish them every happiness.
Her communications chief campaigned against her right to do so. He ran a hate-filled homophobic campaign in a top-selling newspaper in the hope of curtailing people's rights on the ground of their sexual orientation.
Perhaps it would be a fine sign that Scottish Labour isn't the emotionless, rudderless Right-wing husk people believe it is if Dugdale's new communications chief made it a priority in his first days in the job to acknowledge the evil, discriminatory agenda of the Daily Mail, acknowledge and apologise for his part in it, and make it his life's work to reposition Scottish Labour as a defender of those who are discriminated against on the grounds of class, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.