Jim Murphy: A Gift For SNP
The revelation that Jim Murphy is favourite to take over as the leader of Scottish Labour is great news for the Yes Coalition. It will increase the movement’s chances of decimating Labour in May and shows that Labour have failed to understand the mess that they are in.
Labour are currently a party well on the way to losing their core support in Scotland. Under New Labour they ceased to be a social democratic party and instead became a party that spins center left dogma while at the same time presiding over policies that stagnate social mobility. Murphy epitomises this form of duplicitous politics.
While all the time presenting himself as a salt of the earth, working class man of the people, Murphy has consistently helped to disenfranchise the traditional Labour core. Murphy was, in 1994, elected head of the NUS on a banner of restoring the full student grant. However within two years, he was acting as a Blairite stooge within the NUS lobbying for the graduate tax. He did this against the NUS’s own conference resolution. The graduate tax is now used to repay loans issued by the Student Loans Company – the same organisation that Murphy called “an obscene waste of taxpayers’ money” in 1994. This barrier to free education is something that disproportionately affects the poorer in society – the people Labour pretend to protect.
In recent times Murphy has also voted to cap benefits, failed to turn up to a Bedroom tax vote and been embroiled in an expenses scandal. He was claiming up to £20,000 for renting a property in London at the same time as letting out the property he owned there. The MP claimed over one million pounds between 2001 and 2012. In 2007/8 he claimed £3,900 for food, £2,284 for petty cash and £4,884 for a new bathroom. This entitlement to the frittering away of hard earned taxpayers’ money while voting against the interests of your core support shows the disconnect of Labour to the electorate.
Another reason that Murphy is great news for those of us supporting autonomy for Scotland is that he is a divisive figure. Many of the core Labour support voted for Independence but Jim Murphy has just spent a lot of his time travelling round the country alienating them. Despite being portrayed in the media as a victim because he was struck by a yokel propelled egg. There are countless videos online showing him shouting over people who were asking him legitimate questions about things like his voting record. He has an exceptional skill for stoking anger by his abrasive style and inability to listen and connect. It is this style that he will bring to leading the Labour Party in Scotland and it will only turn more people away from them.
However, the main reason he will be great news for the SNP is hinted at in Johann Lamont’s parting words.
“There is a danger of Scottish politics being between two sets of dinosaurs … the Nationalists who can’t accept they were rejected by the people, and some colleagues at Westminster who think nothing has changed.”
Those Labour voters who, in their droves, chose independence from Westminster, as well as those who nearly did, will not want to be led by a person who represents the Westminster based branch of the party. Jim Murphy, current member of the Shadow Cabinet would be sending out the wrong message. If they want to revitalise the party in Scotland they need to elect a less divisive figure not tainted by the Westminster way of doing things. If such a person exists.
From the point of view of those who voted Yes, and those of us determined to bring more powers to the Scottish Parliament, the continued disarray of Scottish Labour is great news. They fail to see the problem so they have no way of offering a solution. Despite considering him deplorable, we would like to wish Jim Murphy the best of luck in his new endeavour.
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