Psychocandy

B1b2_7fIgAA-UKiBy Mike Small

Jim Murphy’s first week into the fray after the festivities hasn’t gone well. He’s looking more and more like an assemblage of parts: socialism; catholicism; vegetarianism, teetotalism. So many isms so little ideology. The real ideology driving this politician is opportunism, a defining feature of modern politics but one honed to a fine point by Blair’s New Labour, of which Murphy is a lonely standard-bearer.

But this Frankenstein of Labour made up of body parts of broken and demented schemes of Labour lost has staggered into a minefield of his own making. Already the peasants are revolting with Diane Abbott stating yesterday:

“Devolution cannot be for Scotland alone; there should also be devolution of powers to the cities and regions. Murphy cannot bully the rest of the UK about a considered devolution of fiscal powers to all our cities with a pre-emptive strike on the mansion tax.”

The idea of an opposition leader two weeks into the job and facing electoral oblivion may cause titters amongst anyone who’s sobered up after New Year, but she is serious, adding: “I am a unionist, and I understand that the Labour party has a big electoral challenge in Scotland. But I cannot believe that Scottish voters will be taken in by a crude attempt to buy their votes with money expropriated from London.”

This is a change from the sort of puff-pieces that propelled him into position, like this from Nicholas Watt:

“Nita Clarke, who came to know Murphy during her time working in Blair’s Downing Street, thought he had a touch of stardust, reminding her of Matt Santos, the fictional young congressman in the final episodes of The West Wing who retires in frustration with politics, only to be persuaded to make a successful bid for the presidency.”

Sadly Labour’s London leaders seem not to be backing McSantos any more. After Murphy’s perfectly crafted soundbite of ‘1000 Nurses’ turned sour with BoJo protesting: “Londoners perfectly accept that we have a duty to the rest of the country. We already export huge quantities in taxation – about £19bn a year. But I don’t think it is right that the Labour party should be saying one thing to the Scots and standing on a completely different ticket in London … It is very regrettable that Labour should use divisive tactics and should be setting up one part of the country against another. It won’t pay off for them.”

BoJo’s largesse may be perplexing to anyone that has focused on London’s infrastructure as a sort of economic sump, but let’s leave that aside for now.

The Scottish hack-pack are circling the wagons round their instantly beleaguered leader with the unctuous Torcuil Crichton pleading: “If Boris Johnson thinks nurse recruitment plan is a bad idea we know it’s a winner.”

Some have suggested that the Murphy 1000 Nurses story was a clever fabrication to entice people into thinking he had a profound new autonomy. He doesn’t and they aren’t that smart or coordinated.

We’re left with a more prosaic reality. The impact of such a divisive (spot the irony) stance from McSantos is likely to impact badly on English marginals rather than win home the disaffected Labour vote here.

Other commentators beyond Crichton have a clearer view. Alex Massie writes of Murphy’s Nurses pledge: “It is also, of course, a ridiculous promise since it can only be made good if Labour forms the next government at Westminster and at Holyrood. That is, Labour must win across the UK in 2015 and in Scotland in 2016 for any of this to matter at all. Good luck with that.”

Indeed.

And green James Mackenzie wrote: “Ed M is surely looking at the Murphy car crash and saying to an advisor “are you absolutely sure neither of those MSPs were any cop?”

SECDEF

Never mind the commentators or Boris Johnson, Murphy has far more serious challenges ahead. The first is the mysteriously delayed Chilcot Inquiry report which prompted Lord Dykes of Harrow Weald, a Liberal Democrat peer, to ask in the House of Lords:

Lord Dykes asked: ‘Is my noble friend aware that more and more people think it is some kind of attempt to prolong the agony of Mr Blair facing possible war crimes charges?’ and add: “Is not this continuing delay an utter and total disgrace and so much time has elapsed?”

With little sense of how ridiculous it sounded Lord Wallace of Saltaire, a Government minister, replied that the Chilcot inquiry was not delayed compared to other recent comparable reports, arguing that the £24million Al Sweady report into alleged maltreatment of Iraqis by British troops took five years report “on two battles in one afternoon”. Such is the way the British State operates. But peoples eyes are open now. The Chilcot Commission – whether it comes out with an attempted whitewash after giving us the ‘gist’ of communications between Blair and Bush or whether it is delayed and delayed or whether it comes out and, as widely expected, fails to hide the gruesome failure of command and failings on the ground (moral, political, tactical and personal) will present Jim Murphy with a huge challenge. And for those who argue we are digging up Iraq as a weapon to bash Labour, the truth is we are all still living through the fallout of this disaster, whether it be witnessing the carnage in that poor country, or the knock-on effect throughout the Middle East and the crisis it has caused for British foreign policy.

Within Murphy’s Frankenstein construction there is a strong moral dimension projected around his political persona. This construct faces extreme difficulties in the light of the culpability of the UK authorities in rendition, the disclosure about US torture, never mind the £24million Al Sweady report into alleged maltreatment of Iraqis by British troops or the £13.5million Baha Mousa inquiry.

As on Iraq as with Trident. Murphy’s moral compass is malfunctioning.

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The second crisis facing Murphy is the Smith Commission which continues to face ridicule and abandonment, even by its proponents.

Labour to win Scotland have to recapture voters who in sizeable numbers have been transformed not just in their voting intentions but in their understanding of how Britain works. Political commentator for the Telegraph Iain Martin (Step by step, devolution is wrecking the United Kingdom) generously suggests that Murphy: ” …has set about the worst job in the world – being leader of the dysfunctional Scottish Labour Party – with considerable energy.” But reality is that Ladbrokes has all Glasgow seats now being marginals (see here).

We’re faced with a new reality. Half of the country don’t want to be part of Britain. Half do. That’s a challenge for the Yes movement, but it’s also a massive challenge for Murphy. Labour have chosen the single most divisive individual to work in that reality. His first offering was a sort of psychocandy, a cheap stunt of a political gambit that has exposed his one-dimensional approach which may backfire bigtime with only four months to go.



Categories: Commentary

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27 replies

  1. Read and enjoy: A would be alpha wolf has been unwittingly let loose amongst the pack.

    Entrails beginning to be gnawed at.

    Satire as Life: Stock up on your popcorn.

    Yours in huffing & puffing Little Jock Riding Hood

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Well, actually, I think he’s playing a blinder. And with the approval of London. His job is to regain the “35%” core that London Labour deems necessary to win the election. He does NOT have to appeal to all Scots, just those Labour supporters who voted “Yes” and are currently thinking of voting for the SNP. I

    • Spot on david. And with the unstinting help of the M.S.M never questioning his lies, he,s just the person to do it.

    • I don’t think he is playing a blinder but I agree the SNP have to work hard to counter his assiduous cultivation of the mythical power around the Celtic supporting, working class Labour hero “brought up in a drawer” facade. People who follow Bella, buy the National etc will no doubt find this to be wholly repulsive but what about the “information poor” who read the Record, glance at BBC Scotland News and, more importantly, are exposed to the truly vile deployment of word of mouth propaganda by Unionists on each side of the dwindling but nonetheless still real sectarian divide in the West of Scotland.

      I am also perturbed by the Henry Jackson Society, Trident supporting context and the quite remarkable support he is getting from BBC Scotland……..does anyone have any background on HJS buying influence?

      • But the low information voter he seems to be cultivating is also the one least likely to be bothered voting.

      • MBC
        I don’t agree…….if the big Labour majorities in key low turnout constituencies are to be overturned the SNP needs to reach these folk

      • Hmmm…. we may be talking at cross purposes. I only meant that Yes reached parts of these constituencies and overcame low information by education. This turned voters towards Yes. These voters are no longer low information voters. The ones not reached are the low information voters who voted No.

      • MBC
        Point taken…..sorry. The week after 18/9 I prepared a spreadsheet of all current SLAB MP 2010 GE Results. To wipe them all out we need both a 70% turnout and a 30% swing from Labour……..that will be a big ask in the face of MSM/BBC in overdrive again. I would also question if all the young radical activists who worked their socks off in the Indyref will be as enthusiastic to work for the SNP in the run up to May?

        Also, I repeat my point above……..is there funding from HJC backers in play here?

        This is going to be a tough fight

  3. Boris and Abbot have played their roles well, in the ‘Tartan Jim fights Westminster’ play.
    I believe the whole thing is a manufactured situation, to create nice headlines for Tartan Jim. Better Together is still alive and well.

    • Aye it kinda looks that way, ( either that or I’m turning into a cynical aul bastard ) we need to watch out for this kind of thing, it’s too easy to do. the question is how do we counter it !

      • Just as we did during the referendum campaign, Steve. Get out on the streets canvassing, talking to people on their doorsteps, leafleting, delivering as much information as we can to the electorate and try to educate them. It worked for our area, and hopefully, with the vast increase in membership, even more people will be available to help.

    • Must admit, it was my first thought too. If it walks like a duck… etc

    • thats what it looks like to me. make it look like hes sticking it to westminster.

  4. London is twice the size by population of Scotland. Yet Scotland, half the size of London, exports considerably more than £19 billion in taxation a year…

  5. While a lot of attention is being focused on Murphy’s 1000 more nurses than the SNP, much less has been paid on the free schools meals issue. Jim Murphy went on TV saying he supported free school meals, while Iain Gray has condemned their introduction. This is as bad as the shambles over the nurses promise, perhaps even more so.

  6. I was part of the Provan YES campaign. Provan YES had stalls (and a latterly a wee ice cream van) out at the three Celtic games immediately preceding the referendum. The Celtic fans took everything that the YES campaigners had; 10s of thousands of posters, car stickers, thousands of badges, everything. The punters are not necessarily buying what the BBC and the papers are trying to sell us. If the SNP don’t piss of Independence supporters too much before the election they should collect close to 40% of the vote in Scotland and the country takes another big step towards nationhood.

  7. Murphy is an opportunist, some say a chameleon character, I guess they both fit.

    An interesting comments today reported in the National, David Lammy, a former minister in Blair’s government said in ref to Murphy’s subsidised 1000 nurses for Scotland over whatever the SNP promise.
    To Quote ” It cannot be right.. that the money raised from London tax payers, continues to be siphoned off to other regions”

    Eh?, they have been sucking Scotland dry since the Union started, one way or the other. However, it shows that Murphy’s promise is just hot air, his own Labour party would simply not allow it, why, because it would lose them votes in England, which is their main priority. Smoke and mirrors as usual. Expect Murphy to become ever more mouthy as it dawns on him that he is headed for the Labour scrapheap.

    Other Labourites are saying the same thing as Lammy, Tessa Jowell for example “

  8. The 1000 nurses has gone rather well I thought for Murphy far better than the opening offer from the SNP for 2015 to not vote Labour but vote SNP to keep the Tories out. The logic behind this is already beginning to seem tortured and I can’t see it lasting through to May.

  9. One thing Labour hasn’t woken up to is that its not the responsibility of voters to wait around while Labour ‘sorted’ out its leadership or differences between London and Holyrood, then obediently vote when told, “We’re ready now”.
    On a wider issue nether is it OK for the Smith proposals to be casually put back to 2017, if the puny ‘offerings’ ever come to anything, and voters to stand like peasants at the gates while those ‘above’ manipulate and argue.

  10. Murphy continues to get an easy ride from unionist media, especially the BBC. His Thatcher voice, all hushed innocence and faux sincerity, is truly sickening. Yes, some will be fooled by him, but I am confident a majority will see him for what he is: a shallow charlatan.

  11. The SNP should be seeking a mandate to declare independence after winning a Scots Westminster majority next May. That was the deal in the not so distant past and still fits the Westminster sovereignty/FPTP system of governance. Referenda is not the only option open to Scots. There is no point in filling ‘tartan’ seats at Westminster – 30+ SNP MP’s will achieve nothing against 500+ red/blue Tories. The SNP would be sure of 45% of the voters (easily enough for 30+ seats) if they made independence their key General Election objective. Yes folk have to ask why SNP don’t have the bottle for this? It seems SNP don’t want to scare the voters! Somehow I doubt any of the 45% who voted to end the union are that scared of independence.

    • Rest assured nothing is being overlooked by the SNP for the GE in May. We Scots now know the full extent of the opposing force that gave its all to steal the referendum. The SNP knows where it’s out-gunned and never will fight in that kind of battle – but ways have to be found to out-smart the media and BBC.

      Only yesterday the BBC’s own ‘Brian with the Braces Taylor’ was giving another pre-referendum type masterclass on how to counter the SNP to favour Murphy’s Heros and that’s just how cynically open the BBC now is. ‘In-yer-face stuff?’ no probs!

      The GE of 2015 has meaning and SE 2016 will be the declaration for independence – so, make no bones about it – this will be the dirtiest campaign ever waged against the Scots – that’s why the odious Murphy is in the tag team.

  12. All these Murphy against the Universe scenarios are just the beginning of Better Together II.
    And there’s plenty more where that came from,after all we’re only into the first 3 days of their media onslaught and by jove they’ve come out with all guns blazing.
    We have to accept that there isn’t really a 3 party division in WM,that’s old hat and probably hasn’t been the real deal for 30-40 years behind the scenes.
    But now the wheels are coming off the pretence is glaringly obvious that they are ‘all in it together’ for sure,but rather deeper than most people imagine.
    How they play off each other is only part of the charade.
    Interesting times we’re living in huh?

  13. While I would dearly love to see a repeat of the wonderful concerted attempts by the wide Yes Movement into galvanising the disadvantaged, I feel this won’t happen.
    I have already seen at my local level, numbers of new members attending the first SNP meeting expecting the same debate and passion that permeated the Yes meetings, only to be disillusioned by a local branch ill equipped and unable/unwilling to deal with a new type of supporter and programmed to carry on ‘business as usual’. I’m sure many were disgusted at the request to make a donation to branch funds.
    This is proofed by the drop in turnout for the next meeting.
    Can we instill again the passion?

    • “Can we instill again the passion?”

      Yes, but only if SNP campaign for independence in the GE2015. They should seek a majority of Scots seats (30+) and a mandate for independence through the ballot box. The 45% will guarantee that majority via FPTP, however it may be that over 50% can be achieved this time around based on the vow being proven to be a dud. FPTP is a system that has imposed unwanted governments on Scotland for generations. Scots should likewise use it to full effect.

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