On the morning of 8th May, Jim Murphy quoted Ernst Toller, who died on 22nd May 1939:
“It is not seemly for you to Mourn,
It is not seemly for you to delay,
You have received a legacy soaked in the heart’s blood of your brothers.
The pregnant deed waits for you.
…Wide burst the gates of bright morning.”
Murphy went on to say:
“Last night was gloomy for Labour. This morning as the sun rose we were hurting. But in a morning like this, before too long. We will bounce back. We will again be the change that working people need.”.
Does Jim Murphy have a hope?
On 8th May, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg both resigned. (So did Nigel Farage, but not Natalie Bennett.) But Jim Murphy didn’t resign: instead he declared his intention to lead Scottish Labour to the May 2016 elections, when he still wants to become a MSP and First Minister of Scotland.
The exit polls look depressing:
- Conservatives: 316
- Labour: 239
- SNP: 58
- LibDem: 10
- UKIP: 2
- Green: 2
- Plaid Cymru: 4
If the DUP get 10 seats, as some polls predicted, the Conservatives would be able to choose between a coalition with the LibDems or a coalition with DUP, whichever they pleased: either would get them to 326, and if so, we are screwed.
The polls open in a minute, and I’ll be on my way to vote. You’ve got til 10pm tonight to vote. You don’t need a polling card or ID: you just need to be registered and to know where your polling station is. (The doors of the polling stations close at 10pm, but anyone inside at 10pm is entitled to vote. Queue properly.)
I’m voting Scottish Green.
There are five men and two women standing in my constituency, and here’s why I chose Sarah Beattie-Smith to vote for.
There were three easy rejections: UKIP, the Tories, and the LibDems.
Jim Murphy cannot take all of the credit for the rise of the SNP in the polls: even before he declared his candidacy, the SNP were looking set to take the majority of the Scottish seats.
But under his leadership, the likelihood of Scottish Labour remaining a significant force in politics at Westminster has continued to fall, to the point where there is an even chance that Jim Murphy may not even be Renfrewshire East’s MP after 7th May: Electoral Calculus currently predicts Murphy’s margin of victory as 1.1%, in a seat which was 20 points ahead of the Tory challenger in 2010, when SNP was in fourth place behind the LibDems.
This is a shattering upset for the man who wanted to be Scotland’s First Minister. In October 2014, Jim Murphy – the third candidate in the Labour leadership race and the only not an MSP – told the Scottish Daily Record:
“I want to unite the Labour Party but, more importantly, I want to bring the country back together after the referendum.
“I am not going to shout at or about the SNP, I am going to talk to and listen to Scotland and I am very clear that the job I am applying for is to be the First Minister of Scotland.”
Does Lesley Brennan stand a chance as the Labour PPC in Dundee East?
Electoral Calculus says no – Stewart Hosie has both the benefit of being the incumbent MP and the candidate on the rising tide of SNP votes. Maybe in 2020: Lesley Brennan has represented Dundee’s East End ward since 2012.
Nevertheless, Dundee East has been selected as one of 106 Labour “battleground seats”, and thus Brennan’s campaign became the recipient of £1000 from Tony Blair, who is donating £106,000 to the candidates in those seats, or so the initial publicity made it seem.
At 3:44 PM on 4th Feb 2015, Kezia Dugdale, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, tweeted “FACT: The biggest party gets to form the next government”, added the hashtag #voteSNPgetTories, and a link to a Youtube video on the Scottish Labour Party channel.
While “Vote SNP Get Tories” is a valid slogan for the Labour Party to use – a tad simplistic, given the options of the Sorting Hat, but valid electioneering – to claim as “fact” that the party with the most seats gets to form the next government is wilfully misleading.
There were three women and two men in the Scottish Labour leadership contest: the media largely ignored Sarah Boyack, Kezia Dugdale, and Katy Clark: most of the mainstream publicity I saw treated the contest as if it were a race between two men, Jim Murphy and Neil Findlay.
Jim Murphy won, MP for East Renfrewshire, and currently his name gets about 2,750,000 hits on Google.
Kezia Dugdale also won: she is the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and currently her name gets about 75,900 hits on Google.
I have a tiny fraction of a vote in the Scottish Labour leadership contest (as a Unite member) and here’s how I plan to vote.
Steve Bell’s shtick is picking a comparator for a politician whom he knows he’s going to have to draw a lot. Nick Clegg as cardboard figure with massive chin. Edwina Currie as giant chicken. John Prescott as a toothless bulldog. Nicola Sturgeon has just become one of those politicians, as the very-soon-to-be First Minister of Scotland.
Edwina Currie said of him a few years ago:
He’s never kind, never affectionate. So it can feel hurtful. Afterwards, you realise it’s very funny and clever, but at the time you feel miffed that your enormous contribution to the country is not being recognised. Does it make you feel better when you see your political rivals skewered? Oh yes!
Steve Bell is a remarkable talent. I’m not in the least surprised at his longevity. Long may he continue.
So, Steve Bell might have picked something offensive, it might have been funny, it might have been clarifying or illuminating or silly, but the shtick Steve Bell seems to have chosen for Nicola Sturgeon is… Hitler.
Jim Sillars writes in an open letter:
Bear this in mind: Scotland is involved in a great debate conducted democratically. That means freedom of thought has to be matched by freedom of speech, and that right respected by all. Freedom of speech does give licence to abuse. It is a wise person who does not use it for that purpose. Don’t start to respond by saying the other side are at it too. They are not going to get media coverage. You are.
In every campaign there comes a tipping point. Those of us engaged intelligently in this campaign, yes intelligently, can only hope that your stupid contributions through personal abuse do not lend themselves to a tipping point towards a Yes defeat. Stop playing the game that suits only the No side.
In this letter Jim Sillars recalls incidents of “false friends” – undercover policemen who infiltrated the independence movement and encouraged young enthusiasts to commit crimes with a view to making Scottish independence look like a bad cause. He says bluntly:
In 1979, with only a very weak assembly on offer, MI5 and special branch were involved, as was the CIA – with the US Consul in Edinburgh coming from the CIA stable. That was for a weak assembly, do you think that they will not be more engaged now that independence is on the agenda? Has it ever crossed your mind that by conducting a campaign of abuse, which plays into the hands of the No media, you are opening the Yes side to a dirty tricks campaign?
(There is a response to this letter from within the Yes campaign here.)