Jim Murphy: The Patriot Actor
One of things both sides agreed on during the referendum campaign was that the Scottish electorate was energised, that the population was informed and engaged in political ideas in a way that had not been witnessed for generations. This new found canniness is about to be put to the test as the mainstream media PR campaign for Jim Murphy begins in earnest. Will the electorate be wise enough to see through the PR or will they be taken in by the unchallenged spin that is about to be spoon fed to them? I hope we truly are now more politically astute and those who have left Labour do not hastily return.
Today’s Clause 4 announcement reeks of policy by PR which is probably the only way the Labour elite know how to operate nowadays. Traditionally a political leader might develop policy from their principles, and if those principles strike home with the electorate they may obtain power. Nowadays, they just develop a strategy for gaining power and make up the principles as they go along. This is what New Labour excelled at, saying what you wanted to hear while doing something completely different. Jim Murphy was an integral part of New Labour and we would be silly to believe he has changed.
Many disillusioned old school Labour supporters lament the day that Tony Blair dismantled Clause 4. The move essentially broke Labour’s link with the workers and put an end to the idea that it was good for the workers to have a stake in the means of production. It paved the way for New Labour’s adoption of neo-liberal ideas, opened the door to deregulation, privatisation and resource based wars while at the same time spinning to us yarns of socialism, meritocracy and emancipation from tyranny.
Murphy doesn’t have the charisma of the former Prime Minister. Blair was a wolf in sheep’s clothing whereas Murphy is just a wolf. Audacious, cunning and vicious. The mention of Clause 4 is deliberate then, a strategy designed to flick a switch in the minds of those Socialists who are disgruntled with New Labour, who see their current decline as slowly emanating from the the last time that the clause was tampered with. If tempted to give Labour one last chance they should perhaps investigate some of the actions of Jim Murphy and compare them to some of his stated principles.
Murphy’s five principles for a new Clause 4 are the following:
1. Making it clear that Scottish Labour is a patriotic party
This is obviously based on the false assumption that the Labour supporters who voted Yes saw themselves as patriots. It shows that Jim is starting to believe his own spin. The majority of people voting Yes wanted to live in a properly representative social democracy and they didn’t care what the borders of that country were. They saw the Yes vote as a once in a generation opportunity to achieve this and they saw no viable way of achieving this through the current set up. Only Murphy knows how patriotic he really feels. However, one has to ask, how patriotic is it to secretly try to stop the referendum against the will of the Scottish people? This is what Murphy tried to do according to documents acquired by wikileaks.
He is such a patriot he surreptitiously tried to subvert democracy in Scotland. Maybe he is not talking about Scottish patriotism but UK patriotism. Or patriot missiles, which would make more sense given his support for the war and Trident, the aggressive way he goes about his affairs and the damage he leaves in his wake.
2. Declaring a Labour Party that represents Scotland first
3. Committing to total devolution of policy making in devolved areas
His predecessor, Johann Lamont took a parting shot at UK Labour suggesting that they interfere too much in the affairs of Scottish Labour. This is a commonly held opinion on the part of ex Labour voters which Jim’s PR machine has sought to address. How anyone can think that a person who has spent his entire political career (correction, his entire career) as a key figure in UK Labour will now solely serve Scottish Labour is beyond me. However, in a way this makes sense as by electing Jim Murphy the party is eliminating the conflict of interest. Now Scottish Labour is UK Labour. However, Murphy does have history in claiming to represent one institution but actually representing another. During his 9 years with no qualification stint at University, he was the Labour stooge leader of the NUS. In 1994 he was a defender of free education and in 1996 he was suspending his Vice Chairman for the crime of speaking out in support of free education. Prompting a commons early day motion to be raised by Labour MP’s which cited the:
“intolerant and dictatorial behaviour of the President of the NUS.”
His epiphany in support of the Graduate Tax was in contravention of an NUS ballot. So he was doing UK Labour’s bidding at the expense of the democratic will of the smaller group he was meant to represent. So I would urge you to think twice if you believe that this is a man capable of running the Scottish Labour party independently or in the interest of the people it is meant to represent.
4. Committing to a powerful and permanent Scottish Parliament
The most powerful and permanent Scottish Parliament would be an Independent one and I seem to remember Jim Murphy being against that. However, one only needs to look at his past to see that he has a history of not valuing a powerful parliament. In fact, he was the architect and promoter of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill which tried to weaken parliamentary scrutiny. It was designed to allow government to push laws through with limited debate. Thankfully this bill was watered down after a strong public backlash. However, it is safe to say that we should take his commitment to a powerful Scottish parliament with a pinch of salt. If he was prepared to dilute the UK parliament he will be prepared to do the same up here.
5. Renewing Labour’s mission for a more equal and fairer society
The worst thing about New Labour, is that they are neo-liberal to the core but pretend to be socialist. Murphy is a member of Progress which is a right wing Blairist think tank. He is also a member of the neo-liberal and militarist intervention promoting Henry Jackson Society. His centre right ideology has proven to do nothing for equality and fairness. During the New Labour reign we saw continued stagnation in social mobility. If you want to know what Jim Murphy really feels about equality you should take a look at his expenses record. Among other indiscretions he let his London home while claiming up to the £20,000 a year in expenses from the tax payer to rent his own place the city. He pays lip service to equality while helping to impede it by taking more from the tax payer in expenses than is morally justifiable.
So there you have it. We are going to be bombarded by spin between now and May. We will be told about the New New Labour Party in Scotland which has regained its patriotism, its independence and its commitment to justice. This will be a test of our new found political nous and engagement. It is a test I hope Scotland will pass. We only have to look at the previous actions of Jim Murphy and the spin driven politics he represents to learn that we are being lied to again. He is a political weather vane who is only interested in Jim Murphy. Perhaps this is what he means by patriotism.
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