Jim Murphy – the wrong answer to the wrong question

The other candidates rise to acclaim Jim Murphy as he wins the Scottish Labour leadership contest

The other candidates rise to acclaim Jim Murphy as he wins the Scottish Labour leadership contest

In the last couple of weeks several events; some small, some international in scale; occurred which all pointed in a single direction. Right now, anyone seeking clear omens of the way the wind is blowing in global and Scottish politics surely can’t have missed the growing consensus that there is no longer a place for nuclear weapons – either in Scotland or in the wider world.

The one huge event, which received world-wide publicity, was the Vienna Conference on nuclear weapons on the 8th and 9th of December. This conference, attended by delegates from more the 160 countries, saw the international diplomatic community, experts and campaigners all gathered to specifically discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons – the risk that they pose to all human life.

This is not an abstract risk. Although the number of nuclear weapons in global stockpiles is declining, the risk of their use, by accident or design appears to be growing.  Any such use would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences as nuclear weapons are unlike any other weapons. Due to the sheer scale of the indiscriminate devastation they cause, and in their uniquely damaging radioactive fallout, which kills and damages those not yet born in countries not even involved in conflict, nuclear weapons are calamitous in their destruction.

A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill millions of people in an instant and have grave consequences for the environment. The use of tens or hundreds of nuclear bombs would disrupt the global climate, causing widespread famine. Nuclear weapons, therefore, continue to bear an unacceptable risk to humanity and to all life on earth.

In the past few years, a growing number of non-nuclear states have recognised this, and in the vast majority of countries there is a new sense of urgency for negotiations to begin on a global nuclear disarmament treaty that will finally see the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The nine nuclear weapons possessing states are becoming increasingly isolated, and the UK government was rightfully criticised for having to be “dragged kicking and screaming” to the conference and found themselves pilloried in the press, with the Sunday Herald providing the striking headline, “Westminster caves in to Scots pressure to attend conference on nuclear weapons”. It was when we shared this story on the Scrap Trident facebook page that the global became satisfyingly local, and vice versa, when we received the following comment from someone in Vancouver “Keep the pressure up, you Scots. Keep it up. Keep our world safe”. It was a nice moment, a little bit of recognition, and a realisation too – this isn’t just our battle. This isn’t just about removing, once and for all, the ugly and sinister base at Faslane.  This is far bigger than that and the world is watching us and willing us to win, for all our sakes.

The other sign of the burgeoning movement of intolerance to our continuation as a pariah nuclear state, which we surely have to mention, was our own demonstration at Faslane on 30 November . Veteran peace campaigners were astounded by the sheer volume of new young activists who turned out for this event, making it the biggest demonstration against Trident at Faslane in a decade. That day it was made clear; something has stirred in our shared political consciousness, it’s happening all over the world and Scotland is right at the heart of it. To borrow a phrase, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows“.

So, who could possibly be so out-of-touch with Scottish and global political opinion that they could, this same week, elect a leader infamous for his support of nuclear weapons? Which political party could spurn two alternative candidates, each of whom had given a clear commitment of intention to scrap Trident, in favour of one who is so oblivious to the frustration of the non-nuclear states to the nuclear states continued intransigence that he could say “Maintaining the UK independent deterrent must be part our continuing to lead global multilateral disarmament efforts”?

Who, as we approach the 2015 UK general election in which we choose the MPs who will vote on the £100 billion “Main Gate” Trident renewal decision in 2016, could choose to fight that election headed by a man who voted for Trident replacement in the House of Commons in March 2007 and, as Shadow Defence Secretary, actively promoted nuclear weapons and argued against disarmament campaigners within the party? Who, at a time when even those decidedly non-radical bodies the Institute of Fiscal Studies and BBC are criticising George Osborne’s continuing austerity plans as a return to the Britain of the 1930s, could elect a man who has said, “There are others who say that we should not spend this money on nuclear weapons when we could invest in healthcare or in tackling climate change. It is a false choice to argue that the money would be better spent elsewhere”?

The answer is, of course, the Scottish Labour party. What can they possibly be thinking? While you ponder the absurdity of their leadership choice, I’ll provide another of those omens I mentioned earlier. Last week the Labour-supporting New Statesman magazine carried a piece entitled “Scotland and Trident: two words Ed Miliband can’t afford to ignore”. The article convincingly argued that unless Labour changes course on Trident replacement, they risk losing not only the general election, but losing their Scottish heartland for good.

Have Scottish Labour chosen to bury their heads in the sand in the hope that the issue of Trident will go away? If so, they are wrong, very wrong. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate instruments of mass murder ever created. The Scottish electorate are more aware of this now than they have been for 30 years. They are not prepared to listen to any further hypocrisy and disingenuity from Westminster. Jim Murphy, with his ludicrous pro-nuclear establishment view that the best way to have a world free of nuclear weapons is to replace Trident, surely marks the end of the Labour party in Scotland. So be it. The world is changing – we are changing it, and we are changing it for the better.

Steven Griffiths

Scottish CND, On behalf of the Scrap Trident Coalition

Comments (31)

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  1. Lyn Middleton says:

    What an excellent article. However you missed out the point about the number of accidents that have taken place at Faslane in the last few years. IIRC it was over 300. Who is to say that the next one won’t be the one that puts Glasgow’s & much, if not all of Scotland’s population at risk.

    Westminster’s answer is that Trident isn’t in England. Not acceptable in this day & age! It should have been scrapped long ago.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. If Scotland has been landed with Trident because this is Westminster’s price for US bailing out RBS, how can we ever hope to get rid of nuclear weapons on Scotland?

    1. Bothy Basher says:

      Yes Katrina we can get rid of Trident.

      We had the chance recently of course but the Scots chose to keep it.

      On RBS – we bailed out the fraudsters.

    2. jimnarlene says:

      The US, wants Westminster to concentrate on “conventional” weapons, not nuclear.

  3. bringiton says:

    In order to try and get the Labour voters back into line in Scotland,don’t be surprised if Murphy says he supports the removal of Trident (just not unilaterally) but should things not work out for Murphy and Labour in Scotland,no doubt he will return to his Tory roots in Westminster.

  4. Deirdre Murray says:

    Katy Clark’s face and hands say it all. I spoke to her during the referendum and she is most definitely anti nuclear weapon and anti Trident. I hope she reads this and, if she does, I would say, “Come on Katy, leave the Red Tory Party and join the SNP. Their values are more like yours!”.

    1. MBC says:

      No chance of that. Wings recently showed her campaign material which was totally focussed in destroying the SNP, not Trident.

      I agree she should join up the dots. I know it can be difficult to change your vote after generations of voting Labour but it is a leap that hundreds of thousands of Scots have already made.

      See: http://youtu.be/up2q94Oj57Q and Paul Sinclair’s piece in the Times today.

    2. bistermungle says:

      Bugger that! Labour members should be forming a proper socialist party, which SNP are certainly not. They should be joining Scottish Socialists Party if anything. Out of the many positive political changes that have come about post referendum, it is a shame that “socialism” still seems to be a bit of a dirty word.

      1. Frank M says:

        Should be is NOT good enough. We are not for second best. Labour have had 100 years to generate a truly socialist and democratic society and the end of term report says they have failed miserably. Labour have just chosen the 2 right wing candidates as leaders in Scotland. Even the weatherman can see how the wind blows here.
        The SNP have demonstrated with actions that they are very socially aware, so your comments are mis-placed bistermungle (did you mix up the b and the m?). You continue the mantra of attacking the SNP, without supplying any reasoning for your statements. This is typical of the Unionist parties.
        Socialism is not a dirty word in the minds of SNP, or the Greens or the Scottish Socialist Party or Labour for Independence, only in the minds of the Red, Blue Yellow and Purple Tories. The Unionist parties continually focus on the negatives and continually attack others with lies and spin. They look for where they can find the most votes. This is why Labour are lost. It has nothing to do with socialism.
        The type of socialism that Labour talks about is, indeed, contemptible. They have left the ordinary people behind and are now reaping what they sowed. Labour are full of hypocrites who can talk the talk, but can never walk the walk. Scottish Labour are nothing more than a branch office who have to be told how to think.
        The type of socialism openly forwarded by the pro-independence parties is healthy and will allow our country to develop, but only if we have control over our own affairs.
        Open your eyes, lest you fall asleep forever.

  5. The Vole says:

    Reblogged this on The Orkney Vole and commented:
    The Labour Trow down the lane was awfully excited about Jim Murphy being elected but I am not so bothered. After he had gone home in his terminal state of excitement, I sat alone in my warm burrow (I was burning the last of the dear old furniture) were chatting over the fire in the wee burrow, I began asking what questions Murphy could be the answer to ..
    — what to do with old eggs?
    –how to prove that Labour has learned nothing?
    –who could be less popular than La Lamont?
    — who would you never trust with the silver teaspoons?

    Any guesses on what he will do for his next job?

  6. The Vole says:

    What could he be the right answer to?

    1. Which MP could arguably best be held up to epitomise public cynicism and lack of trust toward politicians?

      1. The Vole says:

        That would do it – or who finally finished Labour In Scotland.

  7. Les Wilson says:

    Yeah, that is Jim Murphy for you, and as he sets in to attempt to con Scots again, at Westminster’s bidding.

  8. Monty says:

    Let face facts. He was the best of the three candidates. The standard of Labour MSPs and of MSPs in general is dire so it is perhaps best that they went outside the Scottish parliament. The best result for the 2016 election would be as many new faces at Holyrood as possible followed by a complete and radical review of processes and procedures. Perhaps then we might have at least the beginnings of the parliament that Scotland deserves.

    1. MBC says:

      He was the toughest and most authoritarian of the three candidates. That’s not the same thing as the ‘best’ for a party that is clearly divided and rapidly losing its appeal to voters. We can all see the direction Scottish Labour will now go in. How long can it maintain a semblance of unity with a right wing charlatan like Murphy posing as a leftie at the helm? There is some evidence to suggest that Murphy’s tough stance on the union is drawing support from right wing unsavoury elements but how will these new friends be able to withstand the leftie rhetoric of the New Jim before he us unmasked?

      1. Monty says:

        All true but talking left and acting right has worked very well for the SNP so he just might pull it off.

  9. I read an article recently that instead of 8 missile tubes on the replacement nuclear subs the US, who are supplying the tubes, insist on 12, to which the UK government agreed. So much for independent nuclear deterrent

  10. junius45 says:

    Lord Have Murphy On Us!

  11. Clootie says:

    Support for Nuclear weapons (War in general) is at odds with the basic concept of socialism.

    War is a money making enterprise and even better is a cold war race that requires constant spend.to update the WMD.

    Even the so called “rogue states” could be rendered neutral by economic means by UN mandate – if supported..

    Why do we not have a peaceful world investing in the welfare of the people…because the rich and powerful prefer the current model.

    New Labour was about offering change in order to join the club and receive reward. The name may have reverted to Labour but Murphy and Co are still very much members of that club. If you don’t think the club exists have a look at the wealth of Blair / Brown / Darling etc

    The YES campaign was the start of a much needed change – don’t let Murphy succeed in putting the shackles back on to the Scottish people.

  12. liz says:

    Just looking at that photograph shows that there is trouble in the Labour camp.

    And that’s before JoLa raises her head.

    I have no idea what’s going on in Lab except they have sold their soul to WM

  13. Douglas Robertson says:

    That picture reveals so much – take time to study the body language captured within it.

  14. Maxi kerr says:

    The Government,or in reality- the owners of the country, immaterial of who’s in power don’t care about the general public”THEY DON’T CARE”-and the sooner we get this fact into our apparently inferior intellectual brain the quicker we can make an antidote for their vile warmongering waste of OUR planet.

  15. Iain says:

    Now expect diversion and smoke and mirrors. Just listening to the Labour Oracle (GMS) and I hear talk of Labour Party federalism (note but NOT UK federalism), about taking a stand and becoming a true “Scottish” Party. But how can this be? Is this not the opposite of what they and the Tories campaigned for as ‘Better Together’ and what is obvious from in the pap they submitted to the Smith Commission? Is this not a logical fallacy? If not how is it going to work? Anyone would expect the MSM to crawling all over this but no, nothing but silence, nothing to see here, move along. The sad point being many who took the No side are like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed …..

    1. Frank M says:

      Scottish Labour missed the chance to define themselves Iain, because they have no courage. They could have stood up to Westminster and said they would not be a branch office. They could have stood shoulder to shoulder with the pro-independence parties and fought for Scotland. Johann Lamont and her team would have shown strength here and retained some integrity. They could have joined in the debate in an independent Scotland and then begun the move to re-establish some semblance of respect.
      However, they did not do this.
      So you are correct. Since they are still led by WM, in the form of Mr Murphy (who took 9 years of public funds in order to pay tuition fees at University so that he did not manage to get a degree), then we can expect plenty more diversion, smoke and mirrors. This man cannot be trusted and neither can his monkey.

  16. arthur thomson says:

    Who can be afraid of the Egg Man. That is who Murphy is and he should always be referred to as such. He is a shell of a person who has been ‘elected’ to lead a shell of a party. The biggest risk that he poses is that there may be a sympathy vote for a labour party that has degenerated to the point of appointing such a degenerate as its leader – and I am serious about that. We need to make it clear to others that any such sympathy is utterly misplaced.

  17. jim waugh says:

    Jim Murphy on Piennar’s politics on 14/12/14

    noting the “powers” from the Smith Commission.

    “We have full tax powers here in Scotland”

    Oh Aye, must have missed that bit of report. Income tax is only one of several taxes we need to have “full tax powers”. Indeed, we are to be given the worst tax in relation to encouraging growth, employment and the chance to break away from the stench of “Osbourne”.

  18. David Allan says:

    Jimbo says he will create a Scottish Labour Party independent of London! Jimbo who going to provide the funding? Your numerous Scottish members?
    The skeletons from your (larger than most closet) will emerge sooner or later. Katy Clarke’s posture suggests we might not have long to wait.
    A divisive figure always makes enemies Jimbo has more than most.

  19. Dafydd Williams says:

    No wonder the Labour party is floundering. It is amazing anyone with an ounce of self-respect can support them. Before the September 18 referendum the Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones actually issued an invitation for Trident to move to Wales (Milford Haven) if there were a Yes vote. He hasn’t repeated that since then, mind – it didn’t go down too well.

  20. Bothy Basher says:

    On the radio the other day, I heard Lord (!) George Foukes supporting Murphy. What have they in common? They have both been caught (and not jailed*) for fiddling expenses – our money. Mi’Lord has also been done for being pished and attacking the police. So the drunken thug was booted into the Lords at our expense. 500 quid a day, tax free and all the expenses you could wish, to say nothing of freebie jaunts round the world.Geordie has a special interest in Caribbean affairs…….

    Se yon birkie ca’d a laird
    Wha struts and stares an ‘a that……

    *you would be jailed

  21. Iain Arnott says:

    The ‘skeletons in the closet’ that David Allen refers to are indeed readily found: check out details of Mr Murphy’s association with the Right Wing ‘Think Tank’ the Henry Jackson Society, which defies belief. It’s members have taken positions closely aligned with the English Defence League on immigration etc and the Society positions itself squarely behind an aggressive interventionist policy in middle East Affairs in particular; currently a very informative summary of this very worrying association is to be found on the newly launched Commonspace (common weal website).

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