End Games

Jim-MurphyA month is a long time in politics. Lesley Riddoch on the Jim Murphy debacle.

So Jim Murphy has gone. Like the grinning cat from Alice in Wonderland, he will take time to disappear completely from the Scottish political scene. But no matter how long it takes for that trademark grin to disappear, there’s no mistaking the utter humiliation of Saturday’s vote.

The Scottish Labour leader actually won the backing of Scottish Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) by a whisker (17-14) but finally realised – or was made to realise — that amounted to a vote of no confidence. Characteristically the former East Renfrewshire MP blamed others not his own right-wing, staunchly unionist political stance. He launched a scathing attack on Len McCluskey, accusing the Unite leader of “destructive behaviour” motivated by a political grudge and described his claim that Scottish Labour’s disastrous performance was directly responsible for Ed Miliband’s defeat as a “grotesque insult” to the party’s membership.
Some might agree McCluskey was wide of the mark. Even if Scottish Labour had won every available seat, UK Labour still failed to clinch the English seats needed for an overall win – and that problem lies fairly and squarely at the feet of Messrs Miliband, Balls, Brown and a succession of unconvincing Labour leadership figures.
But Murphy also had a go at the NEC– attacking their decision to even accept a no-confidence motion : “The executive shouldn’t take the opportunity to overturn a decision arrived at five months ago by thousands of Labour party members and thousands of trade unionists.”

I think we can take it from this surly response, Jim expected to have won by a larger margin and thought he had steam-rollered his way into another term as Scottish leader. Nothing became Ed Miliband like the manner of his going – but nothing confirmed why Jim Murphy had to go like the content of his own bad-tempered exit speech.
Saturday’s press conference by Scottish Labour’s sixth leader in eight years contained far more detail on Murphy’s plans for the future than his decision to go. He promised to lay before the next NEC meeting an exhaustive analysis of Scottish Labour’s mistakes, the reasons for their catastrophic drubbing on May 7th and a reform agenda including a new leadership voting system based on one person, one vote. If this “reform package” is just window-dressing to disguise his sole intent – ending the influence of trade unions in Labour party elections – it will look transparent, desperate and vindictive, even if there is a case to be made for abolishing the “college” system that now operates only in Scotland.

If Murphy surprises everyone by going beyond his “Clause 4” moment to recommend a new totally autonomous Labour Party in Scotland – as surely the next leader must – he will go down in history as the man who could read the writing on the wall but didn’t act on it till Labour were annihilated north of the border.

If he stays true to form, and produces a rehash of the election manifesto with more woolly promises about getting power out of Holyrood, Murphy will cement his reputation as the Labour leader who just didn’t get it – twice. And – more importantly – he will saddle his successor with a “reform plan” that’s likely to be completely unfit for purpose and thereby delay the moment reality kicks in by another few months or years. Perhaps that’s what he plans. There’s nothing else to gain from this slightly embarrassing and belated attempt to secure a legacy in Scotland. The only reason for delaying the moment of resignation a few more weeks should be for the sake of the party – giving leadership candidates the chance to decide whether to stand. Even then, it’s not a great reason for hanging on and hanging over the process. It may seem tough to say to a guy when he’s down but Murphy should just ditch the reform package, leave that to his successor to conduct on his/her own terms – and go. Now.

Whoever opts to try and win the poisoned chalice of Scottish Labour Leader Number Seven should be under no illusions. Anyone associated with the old Murphy regime is tainted – and that principally means Kezia Dugdale. Just as Nicola Sturgeon was too inexperienced to clinch the SNP leadership in 2004, so the time may not be right now for this thirty-something whose focus on the importance of early years is genuine and timely. It took courage to go after the deputy leaders’ job but chumming Jim Murphy was a big mistake that required her to bury a lot of her own political instincts – that may be customary for Scottish Labour but looks bad from the outside
I’ve no idea what Scottish Labour’s deputy leader really thinks about Trident renewal, austerity budgets, the welfare cap, Home Rule, or the branch office culture that will be revived after the UK leadership battle. It will be hard for Dugdale to claim political credentials that fit with Scottish attitudes after toeing Murphy’s line so publicly. Especially when two of the candidates beaten by Murphy five short months ago have come out against the renewal of Trident.

Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay may be back in the running – but they need to consider one tough question first. Are they big enough to “do a Murdo Fraser” and demand that the toxic brand of Scottish Labour is jettisoned in favour of a new stand-alone genuinely Scottish party? And are they imaginative enough to come up with a new formulation of the name? Nothing less will impress the toughest and most unforgiving electorate – Glasgow voters. Nothing less will demonstrate someone north of the border has finally “got it”. The further Labour has moved from the people’s evident desire for autonomy and a distinctively Scottish political agenda, the bigger the forfeit it must pay to be taken seriously again.

Of course, there might be a monumental shift to embrace the inevitability of independence. After all, Labour parties in Norway and Iceland backed their own independence campaigns during the last century. But that is probably too big a step for Labour to take nine months after Scots voted to give the Union one more chance.
And yet Scottish Labour’s current predicament is all about the constitutional question. We know Ed Miliband vetoed the package demanded by Scottish Labour’s Referendum Commission. We know it wanted substantially more powers for the Scottish Parliament and morale has been at rock bottom since that humiliating moment when the Conservatives and Lib Dems overtook the self-styled party of devolution with more far-reaching proposals. It’s time for the new leader to improve the offer. Big time.

Labour north and south of the border is in search of new leaders. Down south the search is on for someone sufficiently right wing to satisfy Tory voters. In Scotland, the successful candidate must be sufficiently “left wing” to woo SNP voters, sufficiently connected to grassroots politics to attract activists and absolutely ready to defy the new British Labour leader and call for the establishment of a new Scottish party. With someone who realises the scale and necessity of that move, Labour in Scotland has the chance of rebirth.

No matter how satisfying the election of 56 SNP MPs, few voters relish the prospect of an SNP dominated Scottish Parliament with no opposition. But there are many other sources from which new parties might emerge to fill the hollowed out space where Labour used to be – Women for Independence, the Scottish left project, the Greens and the SSP to name a few. Time is ticking away.

Is there anyone left in Scottish Labour with the vision and will to do what has to be done?

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Comments (76)

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  1. Donald Urquhart says:

    Spot on, he has to go now. He wrote a reform package in 2011 – it failed. He became leader and failed massively. Only Labour could get rid of him but ask him to write another reform package before he goes.
    It’s insane.

    Labour in-fighting will now probably continue right through Scottish Parliament campaign and elections.

  2. Morag says:

    You know, there’s one thing that constantly dogs Kezia Dugdale, at least online. That is the repeated allegation that she was the vitriolically nasty unionist troll on the Scotsman and other comments pages, Fifi la Bonbon. Fifi was poisonous in a way that spoke of a personality unpleasant to the marrow of her bones. She disappeared in the run-up to the 2011 Holyrood election, at about the time the Labour list candidates were being selected.

    Iain MacWhirter has baldly stated that the allegation has been denied, but I for one have never seen such a denial. The allegation is widespread and apparently uncontested. Given the way the Labour party have gone after SNP-affiliated people who have posted quite innocuous things that were capable of being maliciously represented, the opus of Fifi must have the potential to be extremely damaging, if she did indeed turn out to be an elected Labour politician.

    I suppose it’s a two-edged sword, and perhaps there is potential damage in acknowledging the allegation even by denying it, but I can’t help wondering if Kezia should do something. Assuming it wasn’t her, that is. I certainly find it very dificult to regard her with any respect or even tolerance so long as the suspicion remains that she was the person who typed these vile comments.

    1. MBC says:

      Yes, you would think that if it wasn’t her, she would be fiercely refuting the fact. I agree that there is an unattractive waspishness to Kezia’s personality that comes across in interviews, FMQs, and in her columns that does sound remarkably like a diluted version of Fifi.

      1. Penny says:

        One has only to compare the poise and clarity of the youngest MP elected in centuries to the agressive and vaguely silly commentary of Dugdale. However inexperienced Dugdale may be, her political instincts are no different to that of Murphy; they agreed in a profound way on the task at hand. The task for each is to get as far as they can using politics as a vehicle for making more money than they could doing something else and for congratulating themselves on how clever they are without any effort.

        Her comments and questions as an MSP have been crude, silly and always lacking any kind of long term political perspective.

        I think she is great recruiting agent for the Tories.

        1. MBC says:

          Yes, you feel listening to her comments in interviews and her performance at FMQs that her abiding passion is sniping and sneering at the SNP and not in standing up for the people of Scotland. There seems to be no underlying seriousness or public moral purpose to her attacks which are designed to humiliate her opponent not advance social progress and more effective government in Scotland.

          1. Broadbield says:

            Also true of several other labour mp’s esp Ms Baillie.

        2. Saor Alba says:

          I believe that you have read Ms Dugdale absolutely correctly Penny.

  3. David says:

    Lesley hits the bullseye as usual. Murphy’s arrogance, condescending nature and delusion is staggering. Does Jim “the undertaker” Murphy inhabit a parallel universe? His narrative is that “a big boy did it and ran away”. Continual denial of his significant contribution to last weeks electoral meltdown smacks of the kids fairytale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. His behaviour in desperately trying to cling to power has been embarrassing and undignified. He has zero credibility left, tainted forever by his high profile stance during the indy ref appearing daily “in a town near you” on his wee soapbox throughout the campaign and his 3 or 4 well rehearsed soundbites repeated endlessly over the past 5 weeks. Murphy’s contribution to debate seems to be who can shout the loudest must be right. Murphy should step down immediately and leave any reorganisation to the newly appointed leader whoever s/he might be. If Labour hope to survive as a credible force in Scotland they must become independent of the UK party and might even benefit from a new name and complete re-launch. A new party of the left for a new century.

  4. hector says:

    IF kezia is fifi, that would explain a lot.
    Scottish labour are lions led by donkeys.

    1. JGedd says:

      Actually, I think that they are donkeys led by asses.

  5. Chris Cook says:

    Interesting that Murphy scraped through and resigned on the same day that the Co-op movement scraped through a decision to keep funding the Co-operative Party & its anachronistic link to Labour – the exclusivity of which I would argue is itself a breach of Co-operative Principles.

    Perhaps the solution for Scottish Labour lies with the Co-operative Party in which the excellent Sarah Boyack is a stalwart ?

    Maybe the Co-operative Party in Scotland could draft a new – bottom up – manifesto and open itself up to anyone of any party who subscribes to their complementary policies? So in addition to Coop Labour we might then find Coop Green, Coop SNP, even Coop Lib Dem (I can’t imagine why a Tory might sign up, but you never know).

    Now that any hope of a Labour government in Scotland is gone perhaps Unions might now give up confrontation as Last Century and start getting behind Co-operation. In this way, through facilitating networked Coops of existing and new members they might fill the vacuum in local service provision being left by the Tories.

    There is such a thing as Solidarity, but it’s not the State.

  6. dave says:

    Not gonny miss his haunted house face a great deal. Layers Jimbo!

  7. dave says:

    Not gonny miss his haunted house face a great deal. Laters Jimbo!

  8. Grant MacDonald says:

    There is no escaping, if you translate the vote into percentages, if was 55% for Fundily and 45% against Mundily. Didn’t he describe this ratio as a Solid NO Vote against separation. What goes around, comes around.

    “But no matter how long it takes for that trademark grin to disappear, there’s no mistaking the utter humiliation of Saturday’s vote.”

  9. dennis mclaughlin says:

    Lesley,please stop all the greetin’ and bemoaning ScotLab’s demise please.
    That lot had it good for so long and they took Scottish voters for granted…
    It’s a fitting end to people who put their Party allegiances first.
    Scotland is well rid of them.

    1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      Quite, Gordon Brown was on American television, ABC News being interviewed by Diane Sawyer, he said and I quote ” I come from North Britain.” He couldn’t bring himself to say the word ” Scotland.”There’s nothing quite like a self loathing Scot, is there ?

      Would David Cameron say ” I come from South Britain” ? I kinda doubt it.

      1. Patrick Hogg, Biographer of Robert Burns says:

        And Mr Gordon Brown is the man who said in the Red Book for Scotland, that when the Union of 1707 stops serving the working people of Scotland, the Union must go. Mr Gordon Brown was once a bright young principled star of Scottish Labour, but he is a sell-out of astronomical proportions who cares only of his legacy as an erstwhile PM who was stabbed in the back by Blair’s money men when they came calling with a gun at his head saying, give us the ******** public money to bail out the banks or there will be hell on the streets – he should have said, go borrow from the IMF you crooks and criminals. Blair and co were part of a massive Neo-Feudal hiest of public funds which has allowed them (financiers) to determine Neo-Liberal economic policy for years. Brown and his Labour baboons havent the brains to see Neo-Liberal economic for what it is and tackle the crooks and criminals, put them in their place and make Westminster a place where democracy breathes: sadly, Westminster has become the problem, not even part of the solution. Not only should it be shut down, it is a safe haven for protecting sick paedos where consecutive governments have aided and abetted the suppression of evidence to stop people getting prosecuted. Is there any crime our elites in London might ever be prosecuted for??????????

  10. Annette says:

    I read Patrick Harvie is game for becoming opposition leader in Holyrood. Which would be AWESOME.

    1. Jackie Donaghey says:

      It would indeed be awesome! A truly left-wing politician and a nice bloke.

      1. Neil Anderson says:

        I’d prefer him as First Minister.

  11. Anja cradden says:

    Gordon brown and scottish labour wrecked it for everyone years ago when they opposed new labour trying to bring in proportional representation. Didn’t want to loose their one party state.

  12. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Awesome indeed – and potentially very damaging. Patrick has overplayed his hand already on several occasions

    1. DialMforMurdo says:

      Including pushing the wrong button against the 2009 SNP budget, much to Robin Harper’s visible consternation.

    2. George Gebbie says:

      As ever, Dave, your analysis is spot on. When Patrick Harvie was interviewed by Gordon Brewer just pre the election he seemed to accept that independence was not a personal priority for him and he only supports it because 70% of Greens in Scotland do.

  13. Ewan Kennedy says:

    A great article as usual, Lesley, and one I substantially agree with. A couple of points, first, I think Len McCluskey wasn’t just talking about arithmetic of the 56 but the wider issue of how the Scots were handled, second, a purely Scottish party would simply vote at its first conference on issues like Indie and Trident. It’s so obvious and almost certain they won’t get it.

  14. Cath says:

    Good article, but I think Scottish Labour has left it too late to reform. It wasn’t just how it fought the referendum, and being part of Better Together with the Tories that is their problem. It was the fact it tried to suppress any debate (within and without the party) and denigrated those who were taking part in the debate – Labour for independence, the Commonweal, Women for Independence, National Collective.

    As a result, they have been left behind by a Scotland which is changing rapidly and has been having a debate with itself for at least 3 years. Labour has not only not been a party to that debate, but has been standing outside, fingers in ears, laughing at, in a pretence that only Labour had the right to speak for Scotland and everyone else was deluded.

    I don’t think there is (or ever could be) anyone in ‘Scottish’ Labour who is strong enough to stand up to London and the UK media and declare the Scottish branch autonomous, and what would be the point in any case? There is no point a Scottish Labour party having different policy on reserved issues unless they also support the Scottish parliament having the powers to implement them.

    There is unquestionably a future for a Scottish left wing party – in fact the need has never been greater. But it can’t and won’t re-animate from the corpse of old ‘Scottish’ Labour. If there are decent people within that party who ‘get’ Scotland, they should work with those who have been part of the debate over the past few years and help create something new, not linked to UK Labour. Then, if they can work with UK Labour as an autonomous sister party, all to the good. But I wouldn’t hold out much hope for that either.

    1. Robert McCleneghen says:


      How refreshing to read your comments regarding Scottish Labour. You are 100% correct regarding
      the fact that having a completely separate labour party is meaningless unless it supports a radical
      transfer of powers to the Scottish Parliament. Alas, I fear Scottish Labour would rather walk off the
      edge of the cliff than support that.

  15. DialMforMurdo says:

    The blame game that will surely be a huge part of this unwanted ‘reform package’ will miss out the main target, the one politician who has undermined his colleagues at every turn since Labour and the Lib Dems lost control of Scotland in 2007, namely one James Francis Murphy.

    Murphy and his backroom team headed by McTernan have done nothing but spread poison since he was appointed to the Scotland office by Brown in 2008 as a reward for shepherding in the dangerous Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, i.e. the bill that removed power from Parliament and handed it to the executive.

    The loss to the Tories in 2010 and his removal from office didn’t curtail his influence among his acolytes in the Scottish media, who filtered their anti SNP stories via what Jim wanted. The demonisation of Indy supporters online as cybernats can be directly connected to those who pointed out the flaws of Murphy.

    When Ian Gray was humped in 2011, Murphy missed his chance to take control of Scottish Labour, opting instead for a pot pourri fragrant concoction of where it had all gone wrong, yet completely missed the point that the SNP’s momentum was backed up by positivity and hope for better, whereas Labour’s ethos was that of negativity and restriction of Scotland’s potential.

    With his very first appearance on the Irn Bru crates his aim was clear. He knew Labour under Miliband had no chance, that the SNP’s surge was seriously undermining Labour’s hegemony in Scotland (the SNP had been ahead in Westminster polls since February 2014). His long term aim was to hold on to what he could for Labour, hold his seat, win in Holyrood, bide his time in what he arrogantly viewed as a body beneath him, and wait for the chance to re-emerge as a strong leader for Labour leadership in 2020 as the new softly spoken Blair who might just appeal to Essex man.

    His role in the IndyRef campaign, his undermining of Lamont with Curran loyally sticking the blade between her shoulders and his backroom team seamlessly moving from ‘BetterTogether’ into ‘Scottish’ Labour showed where the real power had always been.

    Murphy’s only legacy is that of a man who put self preservation aided and abetted by his acolytes in the Scottish media above that of his party and its supporters.

    1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      ”The demonisation of Indy supporters online as cybernats”

      They call people who want Scotland to REgain its independence ” abusive and cybernats ”, which in itself is an abusive term. Of course the Corporate Media, the Daily Fail, Daily Retard, Torygraph ”journalists” are never abusive !!

  16. Bob Leslie says:

    Let’s face it: they’ve missed the bus. Politics has its ecology, just as in the world of nature, and there are only so many ecological niches. At one point, a very slim opening existed for our Red Tory Squirrel chums: the Independence issue was a stumbling block for many voters and so a swift move to the left might have left them in charge of the tree and winter nut reserves.
    However, they have waited too long and, as the GE made plain, voters have put aside their mistrust of the SNP’s raison d’être and have picked the Yellow National Squirrel as their centre-left rodent of choice.
    This leaves the Red Tory Squirrel in a bit of a conundrum: if it moves to the right, it effectively becomes the Blue Tory Squirrel – with virtually no tree or nut reserve rights in Scotland. If it moves to the left, it finds the territory already occupied by big, well-fed Yellow Squirrels who will chase it off.
    The only place the poor Red Tory Squirrel has left to go is to the far left of the tree – traditionally attracting only a sprinkle of nuts and living-space of but a twig or two.
    For all their chittering about rebuilding the Red Tory Squirrel colony, the fact is that their best bet of any kind of survival lies in getting a bottle of yellow fur dye (“complete with added principles”) and signing-up with the Yellow National Squirrel colony. The days of the Red Tory Squirrel are numbered – a pity, it was quite cute in its day.

    1. Patrick Hogg, Biographer of Robert Burns says:

      Bob this is genius! I wanna meet up and buy you a pint for this commentary! Never heard it put better or greener in such a perfect ecological analogy in the changing climate of Scottish politics. For years now Ive seen it as the SNP occupying the House of Labour’s Credibility with Labour members and politicians shut outside looking in the windows with fists a-shacking. Well, they did leave and move rightward ideologically so their chums could enter a big hoose in Westminster. More than moving and leaving a vacancy, they disconnected from the people they were meant to represent and took Scots for granted, starting patronising us, finger-wagging their top-down lecturing attitudes of superiority. Selling out the people of Scotland for the sake of their own careers and being admired for this sell-out by silver-back baboons in London was a step too far. It was off a cliff. And poor Labour leaders in Scotland didnt even see the cliff nor did they know they were falling at a rate, so busy were they preening themselves in the mirror. I wrote on here in Oct 2014 that Labour had already lost Scotland their day of reckoning was coming on 7th May. Scotland is now in new psychological-cultural territory politically where a paradigm shift has occurred. Everything Labour does on this same trajectory will have the opposite effect they want. The only plan where Labour survive in Scotland is if they embrace INDEPENDENCE. Then we might give them a new tree and some nuts.

  17. bringiton says:

    We live in a democracy and British Labour are entitled to put forward whoever they wish us to vote for,or not.
    It is entirely their business if they want to keep spending money in Scotland putting right of centre politicians up against left of centre SNP people but perhaps that money that could be better spent elsewhere (England comes to mind).
    I suspect that Murphy’s review is just a bit of a face saver for him and allow his exit from Scottish politics to appear more graceful (not really possible however given his conduct).
    The only way that Labour can be reborn in Scotland is if the SNP move to the right and allow them to reoccupy the political space left of centre.
    Can’t see that happening for some time.

    1. MBC says:

      He has said that he wants to end the college system of voting for Scottish Labour leader, which depends 1/3 on votes from the TUs. It was the TUs that were against him yesterday. He wants to replace it with votes from the members. One-man-one-vote as in England.

      Eric Joyce wrote a blog piece yesterday and was also fulminating against the TUs. He says they are no longer full of Labour members but most TU members now are SNP voters.

      Last week the Scottish Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the STUC whose leader said he was not interested in the Labour Party but in his own members and workers rights. The Memo was an agreement to work together to secure workers’ rights in Scotland.

      Are we seeing a thread in any of this?

  18. Stuart Ingleby says:

    The elephant in the room here is Labour for Indy. No discussion of renewal in the Labour party or opposition to the SNP from the left would be relevant without them- if only they were still in existence. I think that Alan Grogan’s decision to end LfI after the referendum was a principled one, but looks premature given subsequent events.

  19. RadicalNeep says:

    Murphy decided to write an essay on Scottish Labour. Murphy decided he would resign at the next meeting, decided he would not stand for Holyrood at the next meeting, decided he would submit his essay at the next meeting. In the meantime, rubbish everyone, blame anyone, except of course Jim saviour of Jim. Isn’t it obvious? He’s playing for a “Nigel Farage” “Oh please don’t go Jim, pleaseeeeeez!” “Oh well I’ll stay, but …… there is a price, guaranteed no one in the MSP list, salary and expenses and expenses and expenses, …….” Not an original thought in his head!

  20. Neil says:

    Murphy will be replaced by some non-entity that no-one is interested in, as befits a party that is as relevant in Scotland as it is in Hampshire.

    To be realistic the Scottish Labour party isn’t going to change its name, and Women for Independence, the Scottish left project, the Greens and the SSP aren’t going to produce a new party.

    What is quite likely is that after the next Holyrood election, the Greens will be outnumbered by UKIPer MSPs, and politics will be dominated by the EU indyref, which is a referendum seemingly ignored by Bella writers.

    1. DialMforMurdo says:

      “the Greens will be outnumbered by UKIPer MSPs”

      Interesting, but highly unlikely, given the comparative memberships of each party. One figure of ridicule who lost his deposit in Falkirk, despite hubristic claims of victory does not a party make.

      Interesting point on EU referendum, do you think it will happen or will Cameron backtrack when he wrings some mild concession out of EU? Also a tad unfair to take Bella to task so soon after the election. Why not submit your own article? I imagine Mike and Kev would be glad to read your take on the subject.

    2. MBC says:

      UKIP received between 1-2% of the vote in Scotland, though 14% in England. I think UKIP has failed in Scotland.

      1. Neil says:

        Yes, but 2% of the vote equates to one MSP. But I think that in the face of the EU ref debate that will be going on and away from FPTP voting, they will get something like 5 – 10% of the list vote, which is two to four MSPs? I think they got 10% in Scotland, in the election last year. So, I think that saying that UKIP has failed in Scotland is wishful thinking.

        I can’t see the SSP getting a single MSP for a long time. I am just wondering if the Greens can match the UKIP vote. It would be a bit embarrassing if the Greens were outnumbered by right-wing nutters with a thing about immigrants.

        1. MBC says:

          No it doesn’t. I just checked. The lowest % of any current list MSP is 5.6% of the vote.

          However there was a 4.5% share for UKIP in Orkney and Shetland. I guess that’s the fishermen. Or maybe the English incomers. But I think they might be part of a wider region when it comes to the list.

          Anyway, SNP came second and had a very large share of the vote. Carmichael got in by around 800 votes this time. His majority was slashed by the SNP.

          1. Neil says:

            Thanks for the correction, although it is a bit like angels on a pinhead. I have a feeling there will be a lot of people voting SNP with their first votes and UKIP with their second votes next year.

            I think the Greens are the only leftists that have a chance of election – the rest of the leading lights in the RIC have all the charisma of gravel – there is no sight of a George Galloway figure, tarnished tangerine Tommy is out of the game, and the rest of them are busy blogging to each other in bum academic parlez while telling people to vote for the government. Shame that the gay latte hugger is as charismatic as they get, as I am sure he turns a lot of people right off.

        2. Neil says:

          I rechecked because you sounded incorrect – to put you right Margo McDonald got elected with 1.1% of the list vote, and the Greens got 2 MSPs from 4.4% of the list vote at the last election.

          Interestingly, the Senior Citizens got nothing from 1.7%, and the BNP got double the vote of the SSP (who came 12th – realistically, they are irrelevant – Aurthur Scargill’s party got double the SSP vote, and if you went by Bella they don’t even exist!).

          1. Fiona Laing says:

            The list vote is not done on a national basis. Margo only got about 1% nationally but received all the votes in the Lothian Region -6.6% therefore was elected on the percentage vote in the region she was standing in.

            No party had anyone elected in a region with less than 5.4% of the vote. In Highland the Liberal Democrats got no one elected off the list with 12.1% of the regional vote.

            For UKIP to get even one list MSP they will need to get at least 5.5% consolidated in one of the 8 regions and hope the redistribution is favourable to them, 5.5% nationally will get none elected.

          2. MBC says:

            What Fiona says. I didn’t mean nationally. But as a % of the region. You sound like you are not familiar with Holyrood voting – the list is by region.

          3. Patrick Hogg, Biographer of Robert Burns says:

            SNP first vote, then UKIP on the list? What an insult to those of us who are members of the SNP and activists with brains that any one of us would lower ourselves to vote for racists in the ilk of UKIP. Raise your judgement please. There are many many many internationalists within the SNP who loath UKIP!

  21. Iain says:

    May I offer a contribution to the sorely-needed Labour debate on both sides of the border, as they search for new leaders?

    A manifesto for real, honest Labour

    Implement the living wage immediately
    Commit to a minimum citizen’s income before 2020
    Raise all benefits automatically in line with inflation
    Renationalise the railways
    End privatisation of the NHS and reverse its implementation to date
    Alter legislation to eliminate all potential for crony benefits
    Hold a referendum on Trident and whether to replace it
    Long term cap on energy prices
    Sufficient new houses to meet ownership/ rental demand by 2020
    Reasonable cap on rent levels
    Abandon all tax concessions, and offshore taxation by 2020, and stringently punish tax evasion
    Land reform
    Steeply progressive taxation throughout the system

    Abolish the royal prerogative, and replace with limited emergency powers, to be then ratified by parliament
    Reduce MPs salaries to 150% of the average wage, and refund only their actual outlays
    Restrict maximum MP term to 10 years
    Restrict MP candidacy to those with significant links to the constituency
    Make MPs wear hearing aids
    Produce significant powers of MP recall and public accountability sessions

    Tax and borrow sufficient to achieve these results without delay – the markets will support real planned reforms. The existing situation will otherwise implode anyway

    Commit full heartedly to these reforms, and replace equivocal statements with resolute action instead of evasive excuses
    This is only the start! Increase equality in all things! Tackle exploitation!

    1. Broadbield says:

      I agree with all that and more, as you suggest. In other words, go back to discover Labour’s principles, jettisoned by Blair/Brown and develop an Attleean type agenda. Fairness, equity, redistribution, rolling back the financialisation of the economy, and the privatisation of profit and socialisation of risk, reform Party funding – big-money has captured the UK parties – control the big 4 accountancy firms, end the revolving door between government and big business, stop shrinking the state, esp. in investment in science and R&D where so many of the innovations have originated (and not in private enterprise as commonly assumed), abolish the unelected House of Lords. There’s so much to do to reverse the poison of Thatcher and her heirs Blair & Brown.

  22. MBC says:

    Face it Lesley, Scottish Labour – what’s left of it – are by and large either mediocrities or parasites. They had Scotland – for decades – but the tragedy (for us) was that they didn’t even want Scotland. And now we have found them out. Scotland was just a platform from which they could spring to London, where their interests really lay. The decents have migrated over the years to the SNP or have died off or retired. What’s left are the hangers-on, the mediocre, the feart. I do know some reasonably decent Labour characters in local government, but by and large they are troughers in smaller pools. A mini municipal version of Westminster Labour, playing the system whilst doing the minumum of work, but without shaking the cages or holding the system that has been built by their forebears to account. The officials run rings around them. A few do have some fire in their bellies still for the poor but they will not rail against the system or have any ideas as to what can be done. They are at best, lost, and at worst, corrupt.

    1. Valerie says:

      Good post, MBC. I can’t even be bothered speculating about the party formerly known as SLab. For the moment, they have stopped slagging off the SNP, Scotland etc. and it’s nice to enjoy the peace.
      As I sat up all night watching the results come in last week, the other thing that made me smile was the obvious lack of dignity of some Slabbers. Ian Murray retained his seat, but his red, sweaty face, and aggressive demeanour were a sight. Murphy took full advantage at the count for self aggrandizement, and Ian Davidson repeatedly threw Murphy under a bus! It was all so angry and infantile. It’s time these people were treated to some cognitive behaviour therapy, and moved on. It’s for the best.

      1. MBC says:

        Yeah, the great highlight for me was seeing Bayonet Davidson bayonet Murphy. Priceless.

  23. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    ”No matter how satisfying the election of 56 SNP MPs, few voters would relish the prospect of an SNP dominated Scottish Parliament with no opposition”

    Hmm, when Liebour was running Scotland for the last 40 years as a one party state, I never heard any criticism from the corporate media, Liebour puts up a tub of lard with a Liebour badge on it and it gets voted in, well, that’s democracy in action, they would say.

    Yet within 5 minutes of the SNP victory, Lib Lab Con and their fans in the media are questioning it.

    1. I Clark says:

      You seem to be conflating Lesley Riddoch’s view with that of ‘Lib Lab Con and their fans in the media’ when you make reference to her quote ”No matter how satisfying the election of 56 SNP MPs, few voters would relish the prospect of an SNP dominated Scottish Parliament with no opposition”.

      The sense of entitlement, complacency and entrenchment of a dominant Labour Party in Scotland was one of the reasons why many of us voted ‘Yes’ last year.

      I am sure there are many of us who voted for SNP candidates on 7 May who are not supporters of any of the unionist parties mentioned, but who are concerned about the lack of an opposition at Holyrood. An effective opposition is one of the most important things in a pluralist democracy.

      We should be capable of separating the hypocrisy of certain unionist supporters (especially Labour ones) and the corporate media from genuine concerns about the possible future direction of our society.

      1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

        Lesley Riddoch is the exception to the rule.

  24. john young says:

    We should be past the “debating” about the No,s/Labour/Tories by now and firmly focussing on the issues present/future that are going to impact on our country e.g.job creation/education/nhs/environmental/ecological/benefits,we are blessed with so many forward thinking people that can/will bring so many ideas for the betterment of all Scots,we have absolutely to go down the “hearts and minds” route,we can be diverse in our thoughts/actions but we cannot afford to remain divided.

  25. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    As some one dismissively said, I think it was North Briton Billy Connolly or it could be demented Brian Wilson ” The Scottish Parliament is about as irrelevant as the White Heather Club.”

    Well, what happens inside the Liebour party is about as irrelevant as the White Heather Club.

  26. Morag says:

    Eek! How do I read entire comments? I’m only seeing the first line of every paragraph
    and I can’t see where to click to read the entire thing.

    1. davie says:

      eek, sorry about that, I hit the wrong button!

  27. Brian Powell says:

    “We know it wanted substantially more powers for the Scottish Parliament”, “It’s time for the new leader to publish those proposals and then improve the offer.”
    What a monumental admission of failure and betrayal of the people of Scotland is encapsulated in those sentences.

    Effectively it says, “when we should have told the truth we didn’t”. That’s the measure of how little importance the Scottish people were to Labour.
    Like the complete lack of argument, open argument, there was among the Labour party politicians and activists over Independence. It’s inconceivable that none of them wanted it.
    But apart from a ‘reluctant No’, we saw nothing.
    Labour betrayal of the people, us, was comprehensive and complete.

    1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      Check this out.

  28. agnes hindmarsh says:

    Iain more or less sums up what labour has to do. I would add that Scottish labour needs to decide whether they want to be separate from UK labour and where they stand on independence.

    A word of caution though – Jim hasn’t gone yet – seems to me a strange way to resign and a month is a long time. We may yet see him doing a Farage and declaring a rush of supporters who just cannot bear to have him leave.

  29. RossB says:

    “But there are many other sources from which new parties might emerge to fill the hollowed out space where Labour used to be-”

    I’m beginning to question the need for a reconstituted Scottish Labour Party from the existing Labour Party in Scotland and agree the answer maybe for something entirely new. But, does it have to be a traditional political party?

    Perhaps the vacant seats can be filled with a rotating representation (perhaps 6 months-1 year) of smaller Regions and Islands, outwith the central belt – not aligned along party lines. In addition, interest groups such as Women for Independence, charities, small business, or by petition, not just called to give evidence in committees but invited to address the chamber, with parliamentary time alloted to ask the awkward questions and hold the whole chamber to account.

    Inspired by the rise of the Yes movement in all its creativity and a reinvigorated politics across the country, is it beyond our ken to grow that into a new Holyrood?

  30. thomaspotter2014 says:

    Let Labour rot in hell.That’s where they’ve left Scotland.

    .Good enough for them

  31. Taranaich says:

    An independent Scottish Labour Party forming less than a year after it campaigned tirelessly under the idea that the nations of the UK are “better together” would be the most cynical and pathetic move for Labour to do short of come out in support of independence itself. How could they justify saying that Scottish Labour deserved the autonomy that they fought to deny the people of Scotland?

    Trying to place itself left of the SNP after attacking *everything* the SNP have done, even those things they’d consider left wing like the council tax freeze, would not convince anyone save those with a nostalgic attachment to the party of Keir Hardie and Nye Bevan. How could they honestly start promoting left-wing ideas like free school meals and free prescriptions, when during the last few years they’ve attacked them as “middle-class subsidies”?

    Perversely, Scottish Labour has made itself the de facto right wing opposition in Scotland while still claiming the mantle of left wing. They will either supplant the Tories, or be absorbed by them. The Greens and SSP are far more potent, effective, and principled left-wing opposition for the SNP.

    Time to let Labour go.

  32. douglas clark says:

    Personally, I think that socialist beliefs and principles are a good thing. I have seen next to no evidence that the Labour Party either in Scotland nor the rest of the UK has a scooby what a socialist belief is.

    They sold out concepts of international solidarity with the working class elsewhere, especially over Gulf War 2, they sold out the poor to the rich, the list is endless. It is next to impossible to see a difference between Labour and Tory manifesto’s for the election just past. Arguing whether there are twenty or forty angels on the pin-head of a needle is pointless posturing.

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    ― George Orwell, Animal Farm

    The reason they lost is because they were indistinguishable from the Tory boys and the Tories had better PR.

  33. Donnie McWatt says:

    Many on here attribute cunning and intelligence to Murphy he does no possess.

    Murphy and the Scottish party are corrupt and have been caught out many times, but the press, including bbc has saved their skins.

    Murphy is not a thinker, he is reactive and believes shouting loud, often and with the press in attendance, is the way to get over the electoral line in first place.

    Never was the saying “oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” so apt fro an individual. Murphy says one thing, his bosses in London slap him down, yet he still repeats it.

    Murphy is no loss to the labour party, never mind Scotland.

    Dugdale, now being prematurely annointed as leader by the bbc, falls short using any description as having leadership credentials. Under questioning Dugdale can’t deviate from a prepared SNP attack or make any lucid or positive argument for labour. We should welcome her with open arms.

    During the Kinnock years there was talent on the labour benches. Trade unionists in Scotland were household names. The leaders of Glasgow and Edinburgh councils were listened to, etc. None of that is now in place.

    Most frighteningly for labour is their lack of talent both sides of the border, the favourite to be uk leader has never had a job outside of politics. We should welcome him with open arms.

    labour reminds me of Month Python’s Dead Parrot!

  34. douglas clark says:

    Donnie McWatt,

    He was a morhping power ranger!

    The man had only to put on a Scotland top to be transformed from a Blairite, expenses troughing troll, to a hero of the MSM.

  35. John Page says:

    I regard Murphy as a complete charlatan……so what personal financial advantage does he get from continuing as SLAB leader for another month? Continuing access to the media to tout for work as a columnist?…….not substantial……a peerage?……..how tawdry……..continued access to Labour Friends of Israel or Henry Jackson Society?……..these people only fund continuing players not losers. A book contract or head for academia?…………hardly.
    This does not seem plausible……why is he staying?
    John Page

    1. JBS says:


  36. Donald Mitchell says:

    What makes you think he’s going?
    In his statement Murphy said he would table his resignation next month, along with a report (presumably into why SLAB lost so badly). My guess is this report will contain a list of recommendations including the NEC rejecting his resignation, just like Farage!

    1. John Page says:


      This extra month is clearly part of an agenda re his self interest and no doubt for Grima Worm Tongue McTernan as well, but to do a Farage would make him look ridiculous………oh wait……

      John Page

  37. John Monro says:

    Just a couple of things. You suggest that Labour in England are searching for a more right wing leader. I disagree with this assessment. I think that is what the Tories and the media are wanting, which is not at all what Labour should be doing. Left wing Labour candidates got good majorities in some English seats. Labour in England, as in Scotland, needs to be true to its principles – Blairism was never anything other than opportunistic, to continue now would be poisonous. The English need a principled and workable alternative to neoliberalism, Labour is the obvious party to provide this. If there are numbers of English and Scottish Labour MPs who cannot live with this, they’ll have to leave the party. The particular issue of immigration needs rather more nuanced policies. It’s all very well for Scotland to welcome immigration, but overcrowded parts of England know there is a real problem here; large-scale immigration is affecting jobs, housing and quality of life and is causing unhealthy resentment. Millions of such ordinary people are rightly angry when their real concerns are patronised. There’s no easy solution in the EU, but I think Labour needs to come to some arrangement with the Tories to have some sort of cross party consensus on the issue, if possible, in negotiations with the EU. In regard to Independence, I think Labour can have their cake and eat it. What is needed is a simple understanding of the rights of any nation or society for self determination. It is after all in the Charter of the United Nations. Labour’s prior commitment to the Union is by definition anti self-determination. Labour needs to loosen the shackles of its own making by committing to supporting the Scottish population in whatever they eventually decide to. Some Labour supporters will promote independence, others will support the Union. I see nothing hypocritical or unworkable about this.

    1. douglas clark says:

      Dear John,

      Labour voters in England. Perhaps if you had said that, as opposed to the Labour Party in England are searching for a more right wing leader?

      Perhaps that would be true. But the Labour Party in England is beholden to Blair, and Blair killed it.

      The English need a principled and workable alternative to neoliberalism, Labour is the obvious party to provide this.

      It is the least obvious party to provide it. They, during your dear leader Blair and his dead weight Chancellor Brown were oblivious to the coming melt down. What we needed, back then, was a few brains around, not lunatics.

      1. John Monro says:

        Both my comments are open to argument, and you’ve provided some. However – “the Labour Party is beholden to Blair”? Do you know that? The Labour Party has some 220,000 members, what do we actually know about their wishes? What internal debate in Labour has taken place to direct the party? Who is actually pushing the Blairite line other than Blairites and the media? And if Labour is the least obvious party to provide opposition to neoliberalism in England, which other party is?

        Labour can return to their principles and survive. Or they can continue trying to have their political cake and eat it by sitting on the fence and pleasing no-one, and the party will eventually rupture.

        1. Bob Leslie says:

          Labour should take warning from events in Scotland. The issue of Independence, which initially inspired a near-allergic reaction on the part of many, allowed both SNP and Labour to occupy political niches fairly close to each other but definitely separate. The drift to the right on Labour’s part and the fading fear of the Independence issue allowed the SNP to colonise abandoned Labour territory and now there is no way back for them. Labour in Scotland are the Walking Dead, doomed, sooner or later, to the same kind of electoral oblivion in which the LibDems and Tories languish. In fact, I’d predict a Tory revival as more likely than a Labour recovery.

          If Labour south of the border wish to survive, they’ll have to become again a party of principle, committed to the welfare of the community, ready to nationalise where necessary but in a manner that doesn’t permit the complacency and inefficiency of the old model. Within that, they’ll have to find a way of accommodating entrepreneurial drive and individual freedom without handing the whole enterprise over to the rich.

          In my opinion, they’d also need to up their commitment to environmental issues – oh, and DEFINITELY come out against Trident, nothing gives them away as crypto-imperialist pseudo-Tories than that. They’re not going to win another election by claiming policy territory that is already occupied, and with more commitment, by the Conservatives. That way, they can only fade – look to Scotland for proof of that.

          Will they have the courage to do so? Nothing so far indicates that they will. If the Greens have sense enough to appropriate and modernise/adapt old Labour policies, as the SNP did, then I see them becoming the same kind of political force in England as the SNP are in Scotland – and, unlike the SNP’s progress, it won’t take generations. I’d say two Tory Parliaments should be enough. The same goes for Plaid Cymru – jettison their ethnic baggage and offer something that the Anglo-Welsh can get on board with and Labour will be dead there too. The way the Tories are drifting even further to the right, I see UKIP’s raison d’être fading away too. What is needed are strong parties with a liberal (small “L”) agenda gaining popularity and thus pulling the Tories back to the sort of political consensus that characterised the 60s (plus all social liberal gains since of course!) when absolutely NO-ONE challenged the centrality of the NHS to our society.

  38. Patrick Hogg, Biographer of Robert Burns says:

    An excellent piece by a great talented journalist, with many interesting comments tagged on. Bella is the best commentary source in Scotland. Wish I had the funds to support you.

    1. No problem – we value your support without money. This is about solidarity, and that’s not counted in coins.

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