Sunday, 24 May 2015


Duncan McNeil MSP has called upon Jim Murphy to stand down from the task of reviewing the Scottish branch of the Labour Party and its electoral system.

Despite the old adage “Never interrupt your opponent while he is doing something stupid”, I cannot help but agree with him.

Murphy, as we have now said on several occasions, was the wrong person to lead a party whose membership had shown that they were begging it to move to the left.  

In their droves, Labour’s heartlands voted against the Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and UKIP (not to mention the Orange order and George Galloway) coalition in the referendum campaign and voted with Labour for Indy, the Greens, Scottish Socialists, Radical Independence and of course the SNP, for a more socially conscious, decent, independent Scotland and an end to Tory rule and austerity for the sake of it, from London forever… that’s Blue Tory or Red Tory rule, by the way.

Murphy made some attempts to be that kind of Labour person, but the years of slavish right wing politics, wars, Blair and Henry Jackson were hard to shake off, and maybe Glasgow man wasn't quite a stupid as he had thought, or hoped. 

Glasgow man didn't buy Jim's pally footie patter. Glasgow man was largely insulted that Jim, in his right wing metropolitan ignorance, thought that if you allowed the working man to get drunk at football and sing sectarian songs, everything would be just fine again.

He was wrong. Glasgow man it seems really doesn't want nuclear weapons (and dangerously neglected ones at that) only a stone’s throw from his multi. 

He doesn't like that he has to claim benefits even when he’s working full time, just to pay the rent. He’s not too keen on Rachel Reeves' declaration that they don’t represent unemployed or sick people (echoing what Harris has been saying for years), and he didn't care for Darling and Murphy being seen to be all matey with the Tories and their Liberal Democrat friends.

Murphy is also the wrong person to write a paper on reform of the voting system.  Labour needs new blood, untainted by the failures of the past. And, as Mr McNeil points out, that only concerns itself with Labour internal systems. It's the voters that cont. All of them, not just the Labour membership.

What the party must do in the next few months while Kezia is caretaker branch manager, is work out where the future lies for them. This is deep philosophical stuff. Above Murphy's pay band.

Do they want to stay a branch office of London Labour tied to Labour's English based policies, or do they want to be free to espouse their own policies. 

Even Murphy, a dyed in the wool London MP, could see that, after Johann Lamont’s declaration that her hands were always tied by London, he had to show that HE and not anyone was in charge of Scottish Labour am its policies.

Unfortunately when he did that, Chukka Ummuna and Ed Balls slapped him down within hours, telling the broadcasters that THEY made the rules.

Mostly it is about getting in touch with ordinary people. That is people who aren't in a political bubble. People who might be inclined to vote for a left of centre Labour Party not bound and gagged by London for fear of frightening off the stockbroker belt and its money. People like me and the folks that I know.

What do they want from a party in Scotland that has to be distinctly Scottish and yet must necessarily be able to chime with the policies of their big brother in London if they are to take the same whip in Westminster? 

How can it be made to work? How can you be distinctly Scottish and yet British too? Is it, today, even possible?

Mr McNeil indicated that Labour activists must get out on the streets and talk to people… find out what they want. That makes sense.

The amazing thing is that with all these MSPs, councillors, MPs and MEPs, none of them have thought to do this already.

I thought that was their bloody job!


  1. Evolution works in funny ways sometimes and Labour in Scotland have attracted the most genetically unfit which is leading them down the natural extinction path as they have no use to man,beast or the environment generally.

    What do they stand for? Their hands on power just like the LibDems, people deserve better a lot better not just weasel words in sound bites.

    1. But we need them not to be extinct, ch.

      We need them to be an alternative to the SNP in Scotland, and we need them to be an alternative to the Tories in England, and therefore the UK, while it's still around.

      This one party state situation will not do.

      Look at what 17 years of Thatcher and Minor did.

      The SNP has been sensible and good for the country, but they can;t go on for ever being in government here.

      You're right about what they stand for. Power.... and sheer blind hatred of the SNP. They hate them far more than they hate the Tories.

    2. If the SNP continue to propose and deliver socially beneficially policies, and avoid the sleaze, complacency, and neo-liberal drift of the Unionist parties, why would an engaged and politically awake electorate decide that they must be changed for change sake? It is up to

    3. Hi James.

      Well, I think that we need opposition. The SNP is doing a good job. So far they have largely avoided sleaze and corruption, and this is hugely commendable. Neo-Liberalism seems to be popular in the SE of England (where a vast number of the UK population lives, but it doesn't seem to have much following in Scotland, so they should be able to resist this.

      But I don;t think that a one party state is a good idea for the future.

      Seriously we need to have an opposition that can sensibly oppose, and we need to have changers of government from time to time to keep the SNP on its toes. Complacency would bring sloppiness, I reckon.

  2. Labour need to disengage from the Westminster bloc. Lamont was absolutely right when she said her hands were tied. Labour HQ obviously thought Scotland was ok following the Referendum, failing to remember lessons from the last Scottish elections. The electorate like the idea of the SNP in government. Not all of them want independence, but were definitely happy enough to give the SNP a second bite at the government cherry.

    Labour have also forgotten than politics are different in Scotland than SE England. Labour expected to keep all their traditional seats north and south of the border, and got screwed.

    The leadership needs gutted, and that includes Harriet Harman. She was Milliband's mentor throughout his political career (since he's had no other) and look what that achieved. He was never going to win the election, even if the SNP had only won a handful of seats.

    A proper Scottish Labour party is what they need. As pointed out in the article, that means speaking to voters. The voters deserve this and they need it. The Scottish Parliament needs an effective opposition that takes the government to task where appropriate, rather than continually attacking every policy that arises, no doubt on orders from Labour HQ.

    Labour also ignored their voters over the past 5 years. I had a Labour MP, where was he? They only seem to pop up at election time. Had they kept in touch with their voters over the past few years they might have saved a few seats, since there were a lot of SNP candidates, many never heard of. As an incumbent, you'd expect to keep a loyal following. Instead they got hammered flat, because they bent over to Labour HQ's will.

    1. Yes, Id say you were right. The English party and quite separately the Scottish one, needs to be gutted and new blood put in.

      MPs will surely have been shaken, at least in our country, out of complacency. I never thought I'd see the day when Labour had 1 MP in Scotland. neither did any of them.

      If they knew what voters were lookoing for in a government they might have kept some of their seats... had they just proposed policies that we wanted to hear.

      But we got Reeves saying that she would be tougher than Smith; we got Balls saying that there was nothing wrong with Osborne's budget. Nothing he would change.

      People don't want that.

      The trouble is that people DO want that in the south of England!

  3. I can only see one way for the Labour Party to save itself from extinction. (That's British Labour, not Scottish Labour. Scottish Labour is as dead as the Lib Dems)

    They have to start by completely gutting their leadership and MPs, getting rid of all the people who have histories with Blairites.

    Five years should be long enough for that purge to happen, just in time for the next Westminster election.

    Then they need to set their policies to "undo all the damage that Thatcher did." That's a simple line, that will resonate with everyone they used to represent. It has to be that simple, and that devoid of loopholes, otherwise people will ignore it as more political doublespeak.

    Then they need to actually follow through. They only have one chance at that. Win the election on that stand, then fail to deliver, and the party is dead.

    Not that I expect them to do that. I expect them to stay "we really want to be the tories" until they get wiped out. But that's their own fault.

    1. Well it';s a lovely thought Illy, but you know its about as likely as the government of Chad having to buy snow ploughs to deal with Arctic weather conditions.

      Gutting the leadership is, you are right, necessary, but who's going to stand in?

      They have no talent.

      In any case, I'm pretty sure that they still believe that the only way is back to Blairism.

      As for Scotland, seriously they have to be joking over Dugdale or Mackintosh.

      Absolutely 3rd best.

  4. If Labour in Scotland are serious about an "independent" party north of the border,then they need to start with the money.
    Without funding,there can be no party and so long as they are dependent on London handouts,they are dependent.
    So,Murphy,let's see the money and then we can make our minds up.

    1. It must be totally separate. Financed separately. Trouble is Murphy and his deputy have gone around hacking off the unions.

      I think I read somewhere that Murphy's plan is already scheduled to hit in shredder before anyone even reads it.

      What absolute nonsense to let someone who oversaw the collapse of the party, write a blueprint for its recovery.

      They are barking.

  5. Hi tris,

    There are plenty of options to Labour as an opposition to the SNP.

    I am currently a member, but, if we get independence, I will certainly listen to other parties with one exception.

    Political parties are either populist or ethical. The former take the general shape of labour down South or UKIP, both being reflective of a set of sentiments they see as being populist rather than standing for something. Whether you agree with them or not.

    It is a fascinating dillemma.

    1. Hi Douglas,

      I think to be successful, you have to mix the two. You have to have some principles around which people can gather. Activists and voters alike, but you must appeal to people from the area you are seeking support,

      I think Labour's problem is that the areas in which it seeks support are so different that it has to have entirely different policies....resulting no one really having much of a belief in them...

      So, for example, you can't be for free education one day having voted for fees on another day in another part of the union. That was Jim Murphy's problem.

      You either believe these things or you don't.

      The trouble with two countries being governed by one government, I guess, only partly alleviated by devolution.

  6. Some of my opinions.

    1. As long as the Scottish Parliament has only limited powers, the need for a strong opposition within that parliament is not as great as it would be if Scotland were independent, and is outweighed by the desirability of a strong pro-independence voice there.

    2. A one-party state normally refers to a country where only one political party is permitted, which is an entirely different entity from a country where one party wins the votes of a much larger part of the electorate than any other party because of the popularity of their policies. Having one very popular party as a dominant force may cause problems in the long term (as complacency and a sense of entitlement sets in), but should not be a problem in the short term.

    3. Once Scotland becomes independent, there will naturally be a period of adjustment for all political parties in Scotland; with independence no longer an issue, the SNP may well lose some support while new parties may also appear.

    4. One fundamental problem with Labour is that it is a right of centre party still pretending (with some success) to be left of centre. It would be better if the existing Scottish branch of the party were to wither away and be replaced by a new, genuinely Scottish party, without the current Labour apparatchiks and their hatred of the SNP. Alternatively, an existing party such as the Scottish Greens could grow to become an effective replacement. On the right, there is always the Tory party, which would presumably pick up some voters if the Scottish parts of the Labour and the LibDem parties decline further.

    5. Those of us who despise what the Labour party has become should not forget that its recent humiliation (only one Scottish MP) is a result of the first past the post system working in the SNP's favour for the first time in a Westminster election, and that Scottish Labour still received nearly a quarter of the votes in Scotland. Labour will almost certainly still be the main opposition party in the Scottish Parliament after the election next year. The beast may be wounded, but it is far from dead.

    1. Les. Thanks for laying that out.

      I agree that while the parliament in Edinburgh has limited powers the importance of opposition is less important... but only because of the number of things that parliament deals with. Education, health, law and order, etc, are extremely important, however, to out daily lives adn parliament works best when people's views other than the main party are taken into consideration.

      Likewise, I realise that one party state isn't technically applicable here. There is a way to get rid of the government, and it doesn't involve revolution. But the SNP has already had two periods of government. The Liberals will probably have all but disappeared by the next election. I can;t see the Tories getting any more popular. Three terms of any government and people are starting to feel like they belong... power corrupts, and although I'm not suggesting for a second any corruption, even the most decent of people can become complacent.

      I agree with point three. I would expect that genuinely Scottish parties will start to appear.

      On point four I agree.

      Point five is again true. The Westminster system so beloved by the Tories and Labour because it hands them government on a your turn, then my turn basis, is hopelessly undemocratic.

      As has been pointed out, the SNP have 56 seats on 1.6 million votes. The greens and Ukip got 3.5 million or so (UK wide) and got one seat each. Ludicrous.

      Last time round the Liberals got fewer votes than the SNP and got 11 seats to the SNPs 6.

      The Tory vote in Scotland is not insignificant wither. We shouldn't forget that.

      And I agree Labour will be the opposition next time round, unless miracles can happen and they manage to form a government.

  7. Tris

    Labour, like the Liberal party, are just not learning the lessons of the past or recent past. Scotland has moved on, it has become more politically aware and people are no longer willing to accept the politics of Carmichael and Murphy, the politics of entitlement. Your correct, people have had enough of making ends meat or supplementing their ends meat with a donation from the food bank.

    I think we can rightly expect our elected politicians to act with the utmost integrity and honesty now, people will accept disagreements on policy and on vision but will no longer accept the blatant lies and dirty tricks and rightfully so. Labour as we have read over the last few days are the same old Labour, dirty tricks against ken Mackintosh, the placing of Dugdale as the front runner when she is out of her depth. She needs to go and get a real job and some life experience outside the political bubble then she might be ready but right now she just doesn't feel like she has any understanding of Scotland and what it is like for many people day to day. I think the Liberals need some of that too.

    I also agree with you on the risk of one party government in Scotland. It's not the SNPs fault that the other parties have decided to commit harry karri in front of our eyes but the SNP can only be as good as the opposition in front of them, and no challenge to their government in the long run will be a disaster. If they are not be smothered by the Westminster and Edinburgh bubble they need to be challenged, they need to be pushed and held to account, that is so important and the reason that we are in the mess we are in in this country. We have three unionist parties that are all pretty much the same and not very good at that.

    I want change, I've had enough of the old dirty gutter politics and as a Liberal decided to join the Liberal Party. I have no doubt I will be up against it, I have no doubt that some within that party once they hear my opinions will not agree, might even be hostile, but I will give it a go even if they throw me out at least I can say I tried. We need strong opposition in this country and I believe, while very few on your blog will agree, that we need a liberal voice.

    We are really in interesting times, our country is changing before our eyes and how lucky are we to be at the start of an exciting journey like this.


    1. Yes Bruce. I can't add much to that.

      I think many people have, like you, over the past few weeks, decided to join the Liberals. It seems that losing things seems to bring new interest... perhaps because people think that at a time when you have lost, you need to learn and change and people want to be a part of that.

      For that reason, I say (and I mean it) I wish you good luck.

      As far as Dugdale is concerned, I agree that she needs more experience before she can lead a party. She's too inexperienced in my view and won;t be good for them.

      Still it looks like HQ has decided that she is the anointed one, so Ken may as well forget it. The BBC will laud her and put her on a pedestal, just as they did when it was decreed from on high that Murphy was to be leader.

      Labour don't learn quickly from mistakes.

  8. tris and other nats who really have no right to stick their noses in Labour
    party business

    I have spoken many times to Labour activists/members officials etc etc
    but when they dont want to listen or listen and then ignore your input
    what can you do.
    Many activists have agreed with my more fair progressive LEFT wing views
    but say the leading Labour big wigs do not even wish to accept any such
    Labour is a top down organisation in thrall to the south east of England
    Scottish Labour will have to become Independent from Labour there is
    no reason both cannot work together on most but not all uk issues destroy
    the snp being number one.

    Although many say the South east is different more prosperous stinking rich
    in comparison to most regions of the uk its not as simple nor the Tory hegemony
    in the south east as certain to remain as some believe

    But considering them together would make it easier to see the patterns: wage depression never conveniently stopped at the bottom 20%, there is little brake on corporate power, and credit is allowing prices in every sphere to peel away from earnings. These trends are obscured by the rather dated political determination that “the needy” must be interested in one kind of politics, and “the aspirational” a completely different kind. Better to acknowledge the similarities in the situations we all face.

    The snp like Cameron have gained power and with it responsibility
    and limited option to blame others for all there problems no doubt they will

    Thats the beauty of not being in charge you get to stand on the side lines
    and watch those in leadership (ha ha ha ) make cock ups and you like
    other voters get to take the piss.
    yep the snp and the Torys have now got deliver on their promises I'll not
    hold me breath .

    1. Well, I think it is everyone's business who we get as political leaders, Niko.

      If I were an out and out Nat, as you suggest, I would say... yep, go with Kezia. She's just what you need. And I'd say, stick together, Labour, have yourself some jolly nice southern English policies, favour the banks, let your welfare spokesman say that you don;t care about the unemployed and the sick. You are the party of the WORKING man; not the unemployed or sick man.

      But I care more about the left than that. So I express an opinion.

      I agree with some of what you are saying.

      Of course it is a far easier job to be out of power everywhere, except Wales, and to criticise and hope that critics in Wales won;t reach the ears of the electorate elsewhere.

      And it is difficult to deliver on promises.

      Events, dear boy, so often get in the way.

  9. Duncan McNeil is my MSP. I have written to him several times complaining about Scottish labour. He suggested I make an appointment to see him at his local surgery which he holds on 2 Fridays per month. That's not exactly "getting out on the streets to talk to people". More of a situation where he will see you when it is convenient to him.

    1. I suspect Brian, that if you made it clear that you want to talk to him about complaints about labour, he will be making it as difficult as possible for you to see him.

      If you do eventually get to see him, it will be interesting to know what he has to say!

    2. If McNeil was truly interested in sorting out Labour's mess he should take time to speak to constituents. Perhaps he's got this mentality that since you are criticising him, there is little to be gained in setting up a meeting. To be fair to him, most if not all MPs tend to have a couple of surgeries a month, so time is limited. But if I were him I would at least respond in writing with a more personalised letter, rather than the standard form letter.

    3. Yeah, you got a point there.

      He probably just thought he'd get himself in the papers...