Jim Murphy was a good constituency MP for
Renfrewshire, he understood unlike some others in the Labour Party
that their re-election campaign started the day after they were elected.
The result at the
election was a huge and depressing defeat for some people, personally I wasn’t
happy or unhappy, I am not a member but I could see quite early on, the Labour
Campaign was terrible.
It was a Campaign that started off with the Labour Party focussing on ‘fitba’, then ‘fitba’ and then some more ‘fitba’.
I would say one of the biggest mistakes was to re-unite the Better Together team which was more like a support group for Jim Murphy. Another bad decision by Jim Murphy was to appoint someone to a key post of Chief of Staff, some of that person’s tweets and observations didn’t tally with the reality of the situation. After watching weeks and weeks of the Labour Campaign going head first into the deck, I wrote a post on the 19th Feb called, ‘fucking it all up’.
10 weeks out, and I knew that things were going to go rather badly.
The SNP won 56 seats with dross as candidates, so ‘fucking it all up’ was rather unsurprisingly on the mark for me again.
I don’t blame Jim Murphy for the defeat of Scottish Labour; the damage had already been done well before he took Office. Labour’s activist base hadn’t been properly developed, some MPs had become rather arrogant and lazy, the phrase that best sums up the problem is, ‘I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me’ for voters.
The Labour ‘political elite’ had forgotten that votes must be earned as well as trust, and trust had been eroded by the failure to address unfairness which the SNP exploited to the max. After all, it was a Labour Party who introduced the ‘bedroom tax’ and didn’t really react when the DWP started benefit sanctions, apparently people in
Scotland had something in the
region of 500,000 sanctions, people left with no money.
Matters weren’t help when a Labour MP boldly declared:
“we are not the party of the unemployed”.
I wonder just how many people who had their benefits stopped marched into the polling station to punish ‘
So, the Labour Party in
Scotland had their worst defeat
since 1918, activist base collapsed, lazy MPs, poor campaign and disastrous
appointments to Jim Murphy’s team. Instead of realising that unity was required,
some people and the unions decided not to support Jim Murphy. On Saturday, he
faced a confidence vote, so, he won that by 17-14.
After the narrow win, Jim Murphy announced to the press he will stand down as Scottish Labour Leader next month. This is of course his right to do so, however, it was a mistake, but a mistake that was his to make.
In politics if you say you are going to do something, you see it through right to the end. Another interesting issue which also came out of this episode is that Murphy does not intend to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament.
As a side issue, the idiot, Sean Clerkin and the Nationalist hate mob turned up outside the Labour HQ to ‘offer’ their support for Jim Murphy, Piers Doughty-Brown and the Sturgeon Youth, the blood and soil division came to gloat.
What purpose did this serve?
I would hazard a guess and say their personal amusement as being the prime mover.
In 2016, the Holrood election takes place, Labour fortunes have changed for the worst, a short time ago, Jim Murphy said he had ‘fixed’ Labour’s problems. To people who are interested in sound bites, sounds terribly good but as so many in the party wouldn’t accept his leadership, he wasn’t leading a party, more fighting a rearguard action.
The leading voices of dissent came from the MSP ranks alongside defeat MPs who didn’t in my opinion pull their weight. Jim Murphy isn’t responsible for that aspect of the defeat. The current Labour MSPs must be wondering, if in under less than a year, they will be out the door as well?
In an internal discussion with some people, I pointed out that for various reasons, 3
seats were going to possibly fall; the ones that I picked were Ian Davidson,
Tom Harris and Willie Bain’s seat.
They all fell.
A group of about 100 Left-wing Scottish Labour activists had a meeting organised by the ‘Campaign for Socialism’, they reached the almost unanimous decision that 'Jim Murphy must go'. I suppose this group will be holding another meeting next year and tell the MSP Neil Findlay or whoever is elected that they have also got to go.
In politics, you cannot be all things to all men; you have to make a stand on something as ‘grounding’. Jim Murphy’s problem was he was a ‘Blairite’, and he couldn’t re-invent himself as something else and sound plausible with it.
What effectively killed off Jim Murphy’s leadership was the trade unions, the latest being the Communication Workers Union, Unison added that it was 'unprecedented for a party leader not to stand down after such a defeat'.
Jim Murphy isn’t responsible for Labour’s 20/30 year problem of disconnecting from the public, they took the public’s vote for granted and paid a heavy price.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University