Labour Party

Jim Spud Murphy- Love Him or Hate Him -He is Not Returning to Westminster Holyw(R)ood Beckons

1. Just who is Jim Murphy?

a. James Francis Murphy is a British Labour Party politician who is the current Member of Parliament (MP) for East Renfrewshire. He previously served as Secretary of State for Scotland in the the Cabinet from 2008 to 2010. Prior to this, he was the Minister of State for Europe from 2007 to 2008, the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform from 2006 to 2007 and the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office from 2005 to 2006.

b. Jim Murphy is married He is a season ticket holder at Celtic Football Club, and captains the Parliamentary Football Team. He is a vegetarian and teetotal. Murphy was born in Glasgow and raised in a flat in the Arden. He was educated at St. Robert Bellarmine School until 1979, when he was 12, when his family emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, after his father became unemployed. In Cape Town, he went to Milnerton High School. In 1985, Murphy returned to Scotland aged 18 to study Politics and European Law at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He was a student at Strathclyde for 9 years, but did not graduate from the university.

2. May 1996; Jim, (Spud) Murphy A Stranger to Democracy

a. Murphy masqueraded as a defender of students when he was the president of the National Union of Students, and he did get his reward from New Labour for selling working class students out. He became the New Labour MP for East Renfrewshire. Some students were well aware that Murphy did not have the interests of the NUS membership, particularly poor and working working class students close to his heart. Instead, they regarded him as a NUS president who actively supported the Labour government achieve its aims of introducing fees and loans for education. His style was dictatorial.

b. At Manchester University, only a select group of hand-picked Murphy supporters were able to question Murphy on his reasons for supporting the introduction of loans and education fees and the gradual elimination of grants. All other students raising their hands were ignored. In due time Murphy’s position became much clearer to an increasing number of students. In Leeds, Murphy was fortunate to escape unharmed when he drew the ire of many students on a Save Free Education Rally when they saw him in attendance.

c. At the time there was a rumour that Murphy would be rewarded by New Labour with the chance to contest a seat in Scotland for the Labour Party if he could succeed in pushing through the party’s introduction of education fees. For many students,this seemed too absurd and corrupt to be believed, the rumour had to be nothing more than just a rumour. However, time revealed the painful truth.

d. During Murphy’s presidency in 1995, the NUS dropped its opposition to the abolition of the student grant in line with the Labour Party’s policies. Subsequently he was condemned by a House of Commons Early Day Motion introduced by Ken Livingstone and signed by 17 Labour MPs for ‘intolerant and dictatorial behaviour’. The EDM also makes reference to his parliamentary ambitions.

e. This is the same opportunist Jim Murphy that later breezed his way to the top echlons of the labour Party, under the protection of Tony Blair. The demise of Blair has brought a halt to his ambition. Ed Miliband recently, “put him out to pasture” removing him from the, “top team”. desiring greater distance between the controlling labour Party machine, in England, Murphy has been given a mini-coach and sent to Scotland with the express purpose of, “stirring the s***. Beware this guy, we nicknamed him, “The Undertaker”. Ignore his message. Vote, “Yes” to independence in the referendum.

3. June 1996; Early day motion: MR JIM MURPHY AND THE NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS 12.06.1996

a. “That this House condemns the intolerant and dictatorial behaviour of the President of the National Union of Students, Mr Jim Murphy, who has unconstitutionally suspended NUS Vice President, Clive Lewis, because he took part, in a personal capacity, in an open debate at Queen Mary and Westfield College on the issues raised by the Campaign for Free Education; further notes that along with President Elect, Douglas Trainer, both men have warned NUS Executive member, Rose Woods, that if she attends the Scottish launch of the Campaign for Free Education she too will be suspended from the NUS Executive; reminds Mr Murphy and Mr Trainer that freedom of speech is a right in the United Kingdom, that they have no power to overturn the results of elections that went against their preferred candidates and that, whilst these methods are a common practice in dictatorships around the 4. world, they are not acceptable behaviour from someone such as Mr Murphy who is putting himself forward as suitable for election to the House of Commons”.

4. February 2010; Murphy’s faith card unlikely to win votes

a. It is interesting to note the Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, intends playing, “the religion card to win votes” This is the same Mr Murphy who, last month, was reported as aiming to counteract the threatened opposition of the BNP in his East Renfrewshire Westminster constituency, by uniting, “Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups to battle the party, which he described as ‘abhorrent'”. However, it should be noted that this is also the same Mr Murphy who was apparently happy to support the present government in its attempts to add further restrictions to the Equality Bill – thankfully blocked by the House of Lords – that would have removed the right of churches and other Christian organisations to refuse to employ persons who do not share their core beliefs, in particular those whose sexual conduct is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

b. Comment:

i. Calton jock: at interview Roman Catholic candidates seeking a job as housekeeper to the parish priest might be asked, Do you wear a condom during sex? An affirmative answer would be sufficient grounds to reject the candidate. Bonkers Spud.

ii. Rev C Brian Ross, Motherwell: I think it would be more accurate to say that, instead of “Labour trying to reposition itself as the natural party of religious voters” it is trying once more to get the endorsement of the Roman Catholic Church in particular which used to be taken for granted. Labour knows that a candidate being given the Church’s blessing is worth a lot more than thousands of pounds spent on leaflets through doors. Unless the SNP candidate is called John Paul, I suppose.

iii. Barry Lees, Greenock: You describe MP Jim Murphy as being a “devout” Catholic, that is: he subscribes to all the tenets, beliefs and instructions of that faith. That being so, he cannot speak to other faiths in the way he does because one of his beliefs and prayers he will offer is for the conversion of England, and so the United Kingdom, to the Pre – Reformation beliefs and practices. Others can fill in the many fault lines in his attempt to win votes.

iv. Tom Reilly, Edinburgh: Jim Murphy’s religion, or lack of it, is of no concern to me, nor I imagine to most in Scotland. His use of religion, and his “devout” Catholicism, to further his, and Labour’s, ambitions is disgraceful. To quote Keir Hardie, it is an insult to the founders of the real Labour party. Today’s Labour is no inheritor of those principled, decent men and women, who strove to improve the lot of those at the lower reaches of society.

v. Bill McLean, Dunfermline: Jim Murphy is taking Labour into dangerous territory when he calls on it to make a special play for the religious vote A poll by ComRes published last week showed that those who define themselves as “non-religious” are equal in number to those who say they have a religion. If Labour starts favouring religious voters by promising regressive legislation, dictated by out-of-touch and dogmatic religious leaders, it risks alienating that half of the population who say religion has “little importance” in their lives. Other polls have shown that most ordinary Catholics are completely out of sympathy with the teachings of the Church on issues such as contraception, euthanasia, homosexuality and abortion. Why, then, would they want such issues on the agenda of a political party? His personal religious enthusiasm may be blinding Mr Murphy to the facts. One of those facts is that it is no longer the case that clerics can dictate the way their congregations vote. People are too independent-minded now to be herded into the voting booth by religious considerations alone.

5. February 2010; Church launches government attack

a. The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has accused the Labour government of conducting a “systematic and unrelenting attack on family values”. The attack came as Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, a practising Catholic, claimed religious faith had a role in British politics. Mr Murphy said in a lecture that Labour best represented people of faith. But Scotland’s most senior Roman Catholic accused the government of “undermining religious freedom”. And a spokesman for the Scottish National Party said Mr Murphy was guilty of “crude electioneering” by trying to “corner the market regarding people’s faith”. A tangible example by the government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed Cardinal Keith O’Brien

b. Mr Murphy focused on the key part “values voters” can play in the election when he delivered the Progress lecture in London on Tuesday evening. He argued that faith values have always been “at the very foundations of the Labour Party”. In his lecture, the Scottish secretary said: “In the US, faith has long played a central part in politics. Not surprising for a country where 60% of people say that God plays an important part in their lives. “But it’s wrong to think that it plays no role in British politics.” The MP for East Renfrewshire added: “Faith voters massively outweigh ‘Motorway Men’ or ‘Worcester Woman’ or any other trendy demographic group identified by marketeers.”

c. He also told the audience that like faith, the family was “another force for good” and “the most important thing in our country”. The minister added: “As well as providing a supportive intellectual environment, it’s a potential source of financial support in difficult days.” His comments were in contrast to the stated attitude of former Labour communications chief Alastair Campbell. Despite former prime minister Tony Blair’s strong religious faith, Campbell famously said: “We don’t do God”. Mr Blair himself said he had avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled “a nutter”. Jim Murphy said religion was at the “very foundations” of the Labour party

d. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, welcomed Mr Murphy’s “recognition of the role played by faith and religion in society”. But he added: “A tangible example by the government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed. “Instead we have witnessed this government undertake a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values. This is a charge I personally put to Gordon Brown when we met in 2008 and I have seen no evidence since then to suggest anything has changed.” Ironically, Mr Murphy had been due to mention the Cardinal by name in his speech by saying: “When the Cardinal speaks, people listen.”

e. Conservative leader David Cameron recently spoke of the importance of his Christian faith, while acknowledging that it grew “hotter and colder by moments”. He said he did not have a “direct line” to God and did not pray for guidance from the almighty.

f. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he did not believe in God. However, he later added he had “enormous respect for people who have religious faith”, that his wife is Catholic and that his children are being brought up Catholic.

g. A spokesman for Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Politicians are fully entitled to declare their personal testament, as the first minister has done and indeed would encourage others to do so. “However, it is quite a different matter to make any suggestion that a political party should seek to corner the market regarding people’s faith. “To do so would be absurd, unreal, and bear the hallmarks of crude electioneering, which would backfire rather badly. “The reality is that people of all faiths and none support the different parties in Scotland, and that forms part of the vibrant political system we have.”

h. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “Jim Murphy is taking the Labour Party into dangerous territory when he calls on it to make a special play for the religious vote. “His personal religious enthusiasm may be blinding him to the facts. It is no longer the case that clerics can dictate the way their congregations vote. People are too independent-minded now to be herded into the voting booth by religious considerations alone.”

6. February 2010; Jim Murphy – risks alienating voters by over-playing religion

a. Labour’s Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, risks alienating the Party’s core vote if he continues to insist that it embrace a religious agenda, says the National Secular Society. Reacting to Mr Murphy’s speech in Westminster today to Labour think tank, “Progress”, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said, “Murphy is taking the Labour Party into dangerous territory when he calls on it to make a special play for the religious vote. His personal religious enthusiasm may be blinding him to the facts. It is no longer the case that clerics can dictate the way their congregations vote. People are too independent-minded now to be herded into the voting booth by religious considerations alone. The society that we live in today is very different to the one that existed fifty years ago, and we want our politicians to reflect that change. Even in the last twenty years Scottish mass attendance has almost halved. The Labour Party should rein in Mr Murphy before he does it permanent damage. A poll by ComRes published last week showed that half of those who define themselves as Christian say that religion is of “little importance” to them.”

b. He went on to say, “If the Labour Party starts favouring religious voters by promising socially regressive legislation, dictated by out-of-touch and dogmatic religious leaders, it risks alienating huge numbers of people. Other polls have shown that ordinary Catholics are completely out of sympathy with the teachings of the Catholic Church on issues such as contraception, euthanasia, homosexuality and abortion. A 2007 YouGov poll showed that only a quarter of Catholics (and only a seventh of the population) agreed with Catholic dogma on abortion. This suggests allying a political party to religion is electorally very dangerous. This is why the electoral results of the Christian Party are pitiful.”

c. He added, ” The British Social Attitudes Survey, published last month about religious leaders trying to influence how people vote in an election, showed that 75% of respondents thought that they shouldn’t, while 67% think religious leaders should stay out of Government decision-making. When asked: “If many of our elected officials were deeply religious, do you think that the laws and policy decisions they make would probably be better or probably be worse?” Nearly half of respondents thought they would be worse, whereas only 26% thought they would be better.”

7. March 2010. Glasgow Council Corruption

a. Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has entered the Glasgow City Council scandal. Murphy has issued a statement to the press warning critics to, “stop knocking” the whole city of Glasgow, after the resignation of its disgraced council leader, Steven, “bin laden” Purcell. The, “critics” are calling for an independent inquiry into Labour controlled Glasgow City Council and its NGOs in regard to the awarding of contracts and jobs to Labour Party members. In trying to distance the Labour Council of shame from Purcell, Murphy protecting the Labour Party said it was, “more than one individual”. Murphy then went on to link the Glasgow Labour Party with Glasgow by saying; “I just wish people would stop knocking Glasgow”.

b. People aren’t knocking Glasgow, they are asking serious questions about Labour’s practices. And those questions aren’t going away until answers are provided. Who got the millions of, (disappeared) pounds of Glasgow taxpayers’ money? It seems that Murphy doesn’t want people asking questions so is attempting to smear them by saying they are attacking the city. That won’t wash and Glaswegian people aren’t that stupid Murphy despite what you think! The cry from the public and clean politicians is, “We have to find out whether this is serial fiddling or an orchestra of fiddlers.”

8. March 2010; Murphy Upgrades his Office on Taxpayers Money

a. You mean Jim (Spud) Murphy from the East End of Glasgow? The young student who, as an active member of the, Revolutionary Communist Party, was at least 10 streets further to the political left than Tommy Sheridan ??? More money has been spent on fixing up Dover House in London over the past two years than in the whole of the previous five years, it was disclosed yesterday. Public cash has gone on things like new carpets and oak floorboards, wall and ceiling decorations, a new fireplace, air conditioning, new cupboard doors and CCTV cameras. Since 1999, a succession of Labour ministers have authorised more than £3.3 million of “refurbishments” to the Scotland Office’s Whitehall headquarters, as well as its smaller Edinburgh base. More than £1 million was squandered in 2007/08 alone with a further £400,000 last year, leading to claims that the government “wasted” public money during the height of the economic crisis.

9. September 2012; The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign strongly condemns the candidacy of Jim Murphy MP, former Chair and continuing member of Labour Friends of Israel

a. Throughout his political career, Murphy has demonstrated blind support for the Israeli state, and blatant disregard for Palestinian lives and human rights. Examples of Murphy’s contemptible views abound. In a 2011 article, Murphy expressed the sentiment that ‘Labour still loves Israel’, condemning the principled decision of the TUC to review its relationship with Israel’s racist trade union, the Histadrut. At that point in time, Murphy called trade unionists’ decisions to respond positively to the Palestinian call for Boycott as a ‘step backwards’, yet since then, no doubt much to Murphy’s chagrin, the Scottish TUC has reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions year after year.

b. Murphy’s recent complicity in Israeli atrocities goes on. Murphy has visited Israel at least three times since 2011: in June that year, receiving a £3,234 donation from pro-Israel lobby group BICOM to cover his expenses; in September 2012, to speak at the annual Conference of the ‘International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’ in Herzliya, and again in October 2013, on a visit with a ‘defence and security focus’, which included visits to the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan and to Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank. To an Israeli audience, Murphy lauded the State as a partner in ensuring ‘anti-autocratic instincts which gave birth to the Arab Spring are not abused by those who seek control for malign purposes’. Israel has been a vital partner, yes, but in the suppression of these anti-autocratic instincts, lobbying hard for the restoration of US military aid to Egypt following General Sisi’s coup last year. Following Israel’s November 2012 attack on Gaza, Murphy spoke only of Israel’s alleged ‘right to defend itself’, without as much as a passing condemnation of the murder of hundreds, many of them already refugees, in one of the world’s most heavily populated strips of land.

c. Whilst Murphy has claimed that that ‘to equate Israel with the vile racist regime in South Africa is both ignorant and outrageous’, veteran leaders of South Africa’s liberation struggle such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu have long condemned Israel as an apartheid state; Israeli poet Yitzhak Laor has gone further, noting that ‘the system preserving this apartheid is more ruthless than that seen in South Africa, where the black were a labour force and could therefore also make a living.’

d. Such an apologist for the State which has perpetrated the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine from 1948 to the present day should have no place whatsoever in Scottish politics, let alone as Leader of Scotland’s second-largest political party. We urge all those with a vote in the Scottish Labour leadership election not to cast their vote for Murphy under any circumstances, and to hold the other leadership candidates to close scrutiny with regards to their positions on Palestine.

10. June 2010; Murphy The Welfare Minister

a. Murphy was Welfare minister in the last Government and oversaw the introduction of the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), etc, no mention by the faux anti-imperialists about that. He has simply never met a blairite policy or a party-line in his entire electoral life he didn’t agree with. Have a look at the rest of his voting record. His office running costs alone (which exclude the staffing budget) are higher than the median household income in the section of his constituency that counts as Labour’s support base (Barrhead, as East Refrewshire has previously been, in it’s past incarnations, a strong Tory seat). This is a Politician who, in the early years of his tenure claimed over £17,000 travel allowances, while 36% of his constituency live in the areas belong to the upper 25% of most deprived areas in the country.

b. Jim Murphy is the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire and shadow secretary of state for defence.

i. Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
ii. Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.
iii. Voted very strongly for a stricter asylum system.
iv. Voted very strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws.

11. October 2012: MP’s Sub-let Their Taxpayer Paid Flats to Other MP’s

a. Jim Murphy, MP for Eastwood, and Russell Brown, the Dumfries MP, are to meet officials from the Commons Fees Office this week to discuss repayment. Mr Murphy has admitted the Commons paid the full rent for his constituency office while he was claiming half the rent from the Eastwood MSP, Ken Macintosh. Mr Brown, who had the rent for his constituency office paid in full, received rent from the MSP Elaine Murray who is the new deputy minister for tourism, culture and sport. Miss Murray said it was inconceivable that Mr Brown would have “fiddled his expenses” and if there was any confusion it was because of the “lax systems at the Fees Office”.

b. A party spokesman said: “What these MPs did wrong was not returning this money, half the rent, to Westminster. They should have sent it back and asked for it to be forwarded to them for them to use to cover the costs of things like stationary and photocopying. “Instead they used the money themselves directly for this purpose, but they have receipts of purchase to show what it was spent on. They accept they made a mistake with the rules.” It has also emerged that the Labour Party overcharged for the rent of an office being used by Anne McGuire, and shared by the MSP Sylvia Jackson. The entire office rent for April was billed to, and paid for by, both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament. A spokesman said: “There was a mistake. The Fees Office is now aware of the mistake and the situation will be rectified in some way. We are being as honest as possible with this and are not trying to cover anything up.”

c. Pete Wishart, the Scottish National Party’s chief whip, said he intended to refer all three cases to Elizabeth Filkin, the Standards Commissioner. “If over claiming on Westminster office expenses was a big enough offence to topple a First Minister, then the consequences for Jim Murphy and Russell Brown are extremely serious,” he said. Mr Murphy should consider his position as parliamentary aide to Helen Liddell, the Scottish Secretary, and Mr Brown should not be allowed to carry on as a member of the Westminster Standards Committee.

d. “No politician should get rich by the back of politics”, Jim Murphy MP (Sky News Interview Apr 2010) Ready reckoner provides evidence his claims totaled just over £1 million.

12. January 2014; Pray to stay – expulsion threat for pupils who don’t say prayers

a. Children who opt out of saying prayers and singing hymns at Scottish faith schools are being threatened with expulsion. Evidence submitted to MSPs claims headteachers are trying to remove children or pressure them into switching school if they exercise their right to opt out of religious observance at denominational schools. And dozens of schools are failing to adequately inform parents about their rights when it comes to deciding whether or not to take part in religious aspects of the curriculum. The Sunday Post has learned of a case in which a girl was told she would have to leave her Catholic school if she did not take part in a traditional church ritual.

b. Critics last night described the revelations as “very worrying”. The Scottish Secular Society claim they are aware of “several” cases in which pupils have been forced to change school. Caroline Lynch, the organisation’s chairwoman, said: “It’s awful. One girl was told that if she didn’t learn part of the catechism then she’d be excluded. “In the last two months I’ve heard from three sets of parents whose children have been threatened with exclusion or told they were not at the ‘right’ school.”

c. The Scottish Secular Society is petitioning Parliament to change the law so parents and pupils opt in to religious observance rather than opt out. Lynch blames headteachers who believe that children who go to a religious school are automatically obliged to join in with religious observance including hymns, prayers and bible study. She added: “Sometimes headteachers just don’t understand the law. But, in some cases, it is people who believe that if a child is at their school then religion is part of the programme. That’s not acceptable. There’s a host of reasons why people send their kids to a particular school.”

d. Scotland has 370 state-funded faith schools of which three are Episcopalian, one Jewish and the other 366 Catholic. Just over a third of Scots claim to have no religion. Figures collated by the Scottish Secular Society show at least 26 schools in Scotland are failing to include information about the right to opt out in their handbook, which they are obliged to do.

e. Michael McGrath, of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said: “Catholic schools are expected to comply with council policies and Scottish Government guidance on the provision of religious observance. “All parents have a right to withdraw children from religious observance on grounds of conscience. “However, where a parent chooses a Catholic school for their child’s education, they choose to be part of the school community and to opt in to the school’s ethos and practice which is imbued with religious faith and religious observance. If a parent was concerned about this they would surely choose a school which does not have a faith character.”

f. One Christian mother contacted the Scottish Secular Society after opting her children out at their request because they said they no longer believed. She claims the school told her that if she went ahead they would be excluded. The Humanist Society Scotland’s Gary McLelland blasted: “If a parent is being forced to remove their child from a school then the rules are not being followed. That would be horrific.” Next week, The Humanist Society and the Church of Scotland will urge religious observance in schools be changed to “time for reflection” to make it more inclusive. Scottish Government spokesman said current legislation and guidance around religious observance is “appropriate” and is not persuaded a move to an opt-in system would be helpful.

g. Mum’s battle to opt out The decision to pull her children out of religious observance sparked a three month battle with their school for one mother. The woman, who asked not to be named to protect her children, informed the Catholic school she was exercising her right to opt out but the message failed to get through to the teachers. She said: “It was a battle and at one point my daughter’s guidance teacher was saying to her if you carry on down this road you will be excluded. “People say to me why don’t you pull them out, but they are settled in all other aspects, such as their friends, and you don’t know what views your teenagers are going to have years down the line when you are choosing schools for them. “I’m a Christian but my son is an atheist and the school needs to respect that. I’ve wondered if there is so much resistance because they know they’d have a staffing nightmare if more people chose to opt out.”

13. August 2014; A peaceful protest, (approximately 1000 attended) at BBC Scotland HQ in Glasgow. (BBC reported 350)

a. Outraged that the, “Yes” Scotland campaign should organise such a demo Labour MP Jim Murphy went on-line to, one of the pro-independence blogs and made mischief, Stirring the proverbial s*** he wrote; “they lost the plot”. “They were angry and divisive”. “Their attempts to bully broadcasters and boycott businesses is the last thing the independence debate needs”. “Their angry and divisive campaign is a turn-off”. “They are frustrated”. “They are losing the big arguments and losing the plot in a big way”. “The reason for the nationalists’ frustration is clear: after 80 years of campaigning to break up the UK and with just 80 days to go, patriotic Scots are still saying no thanks to their political project”. “Now we are seeing real-world attempts to bully a broadcaster.” But square the foregoing with an extract from a recent speech, (setting out his belief in democracy) by the same Jim Murphy; “Nations which suppress the rights of their people to take advantage of civil society, democratic expression or the rule of law can no longer be considered stable nation states”

14. September 2014; Jim Murphy appeals to ‘scunnered’ Scottish Labour voters

a. Jim Murphy addresses the Labour party conference in September the word of the moment, on a wet autumn afternoon in the East Renfrewshire constituency of Jim Murphy, the top . contender to lead Scottish Labour, is “scunnered”. The Westminster MP uses the Scots word for annoyed disgust to explain how his party can prevail in Scotland next May’s general election, despite opinion polls suggesting it faces a near wipeout that could kill Labour hopes of government. The prospect of a crushing defeat north of the border will do little to help the mood of a party where several senior figures, it was reported yesterday, have little confidence in Ed Miliband, Labour leader.

b. Scottish voters are feeling “scunnered with the status quo”, Mr Murphy, a former secretary of state for Scotland, says over pizza and Irn Bru at the Busby Hotel. But he believes Labour can still win if it offers a credible hope of change from a UK government led by the highly unpopular Conservative party. Among some formerly loyal voters in Scotland, however, it is the Labour party itself that arouses disgust. Just up the road in Busby, barber Robert Little, 51, says Labour could once depend on his backing. “That’s the way I was brought up by my dad,” he says. But Mr Little feels the modern Labour party is in thrall to corporate interests, citing what he sees as its failure to defend consumers from unhealthy processed food. In September he voted for Scotland to break away from the UK and the sight of Labour sharing anti-independence platforms with Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians really put him off. “That scunnered me,” Mr Little says. ““We’re not the other guy” is not the basis of an appealing party.”

15. October 2014: Murphy to Lead Labour in Scotland

a. In Jim Murphy, some believe that the party has found its super-sub. After his, “100 towns in 100 days” speaking tour made him a Unionist hero during the referendum campaign, the shadow international development secretary is regarded as having the stature necessary to first halt and then reverse the forward march of the SNP. “He looks like a leader,” a supporter declared. A teetotal vegetarian (his one vice is Irn-Bru) who finished first among MPs in the 2013 London Marathon and the author of a well-received recent book on football, even his enemies concede that few politicians can equal his energy.

b. But those same figures argue that his personality, ideology and Westminster background make him ill-equipped for the task at hand. “He’s the Marmite-plus candidate,” one Labour MP told me, noting that his, “fraught relationship” with Douglas Alexander had, “got worse” during the referendum campaign. “Jim Murphy’s the last person you would want to heal the wounds of a divided party.”

c. The Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm, meanwhile, warned that electing an MP as leader would, “turn a crisis into a catastrophe”. Under the party’s rules, Murphy is required to seek election to Holyrood by 5 May 2016 (the date of the next devolved contest) at the latest. While unlikely to trigger a stand-alone by-election, several sources have suggested that he would aim to secure a seat in time for the general election, giving him a year to take on Nicola Sturgeon in the Holyrood chamber.

d. No Scottish Labour politician draws more opprobrium from nationalists than Murphy. To some in the party, this is proof that he is the one they fear the most. However, SNP sources deride this as wishful thinking. “He’s pro-[tuition] fees, pro-Iraq [war], pro-Trident, which are three of the things now embedded as part of the SNP’s moral and political identity,” one told me. “All of the worst aspects of Labour politics from an SNP perspective are wrapped up and embodied in Murphy. His election would hand the party a gift on a plate.”

e. The prospect of the trade unions – and Unite in particular (whose recent animus towards Murphy dates from the Falkirk affair) – opening fire on him during the campaign is one that they relish. “Unless Ed can do a deal with them, the unions will cause problems for Jim,” one Labour figure warned.

f. As will the insurgent SNP and the wider nationalist movement. Under Sturgeon’s leadership, the party will move to the left, partly out of conviction (unlike Salmond, she is an unambiguous social democrat) and partly out of necessity. The 60,000 people who have joined the SNP since the referendum demand nothing less. In the new Scotland, where a young generation of writers, thinkers and activists define themselves by their constitutional radicalism, Labour faces forces that it can no longer control.

g. For now, the party draws consolation from the enduring unpopularity of the Tories in Scotland, as demonstrated during the referendum campaign. By framing the general election as a choice between a Conservative government or a Labour government, it hopes to prevent critical losses to the nationalists. First, Labour needs to win the right to be heard again. After the public bloodletting of the past weeks, the contrast between the ineptitude of Scottish Labour and the ruthless competence of the SNP has never been greater. The electorate could yet respond by inflicting even greater harm on Labour.

16. October 2014; Labour Party faces meltdown. Neil Findlay

a. Neil Findlay, MSP and left-wing candidate for Lothian was stumped for an answer when asked, “What do you think of this poll then?” after an astonishing survey put the SNP on 54 seats and Labour on 4 after the next general election. “We need to get our act together very quickly. We need to get a new leader in place, and most crucially get policies in place to sell to the electorate.” In a three-horse race, Findlay is, all about traditional Labour values. In his view the failure to push these values is why Scottish Labour has performed badly “over the last 10 years or so”, he said. “Just look at the electoral results, certainly at a Scottish parliament level, to see we haven’t been effective.

b. Findlay said the referendum, in which Labour campaigned shoulder-to-shoulder with the Conservatives, had badly damaged his party. “I was no huge enthusiast for the Better Together campaign,” he said. “It gave an easy opportunity for the Yes side to fire bullets at us and say we were allied with certain political parties. It was an easy attack for them, particularly when they were trying to peel away Labour voters.” Another candidate, Labour MP Jim Murphy, had a starring role in the referendum campaign but Findlay stressed that policies not personalities would decide the outcome of the next election. Referring to the visit to Scotland of Labour leader, in the final weeks of campaigning. Was this an own goal? “Presentational it might not have been the cleverest way to do things, he said.”

c. Ed Miliband is a touchy subject in Scottish Labour at the moment. Labour MP Ian Davidson claimed Lamont had been the victim of a “Blairite coup” led by the London-based leadership. Findlay refused to comment on those allegations, but said there has to be more power for the Scottish party, and less interference from the UK-wide party. “It would be naive to say there are no problems, clearly there were,” Findlay said. “It’s critical that we have further devolution of policy in the Scottish party. If Scottish Labour policy is different to UK policy, then so be it, that’s what the devolution policy in Scotland is all about.”

d. On devolution, he said “a range of powers” should be devolved to the Scottish parliament. When pressed on what this actually meant, he said: “The whole issue of taxation is key. There is an argument for the 100% devolution of tax, but there are also arguments against that.” So that clears that up. He said the referendum should be “once in a lifetime”, and that Nicola Sturgeon’s suggestion that every individual UK country should have to vote Yes in an EU referendum for it to be legally binding is “absurd”. Findlay is not the favourite in the Scottish Labour leader race, and even if he wins, polling suggests life as Scottish Labour leader will be very, very difficult. “A poll is a poll is a poll,” he said. “We’ve seen them come and go in the past. We have to be prepared, we have to get our act together very quickly, and that will be the focus of any leader when they’re elected in December.”

17. October 2014; Jim Murphy’s Campaign Team Looks A Lot Like The Better Together Campaign Team

a. The campaign director of Better Together has been confirmed as an advisor to Jim Murphy MP as he campaigns for Scottish Labour leadership. Blair McDougall, who led the campaign for Scotland to remain in the UK, will take up an advisory role, Murphy’s team has confirmed. Meanwhile, Rob Shorthouse, Better Together director of communications, helped set up Murphy’s campaign this week but will not be formally involved in the campaign in the weeks to come. Day-to-day running of the campaign is to be led by James Kelly MSP and Jenny Marra MSP.

b. The involvement of the Better Together team could prove to be controversial. Some in Scottish Labour have said the pro-union campaign damaged the party. Labour support in Scotland has collapsed according to recent polls, and some within the party believe campaigning alongside the Conservatives as part of Better Together is responsible. Fellow leadership candidate, Neil Findlay MSP, said he was “no huge enthusiast” for Better Together and it gave the Yes side “an easy opportunity … to fire bullets at us and say we were allied with certain political parties.” More formal appointments to the team will made over the weekend as the Murphy leadership campaign officially launches with a rally in Edinburgh on Saturday.

18. November 2014; Ed Miliband tried to persuade Gordon Brown to stand for the Scottish Labour leadership

a. Ed Miliband tried to persuade Gordon Brown to stand for the Scottish Labour leadership, according to a senior party source. Miliband sent a member of the Shadow Cabinet to ask the former prime minister to stand before nominations closed last week, the Independent on Sunday reports. The source added: “Gordon showed good sense in turning it down.” Miliband is understood not to be a fan of Scottish leadership favourite Jim Murphy, a Blairite who stood down as Labour’s international development spokesperson this month. Miliband is thought to get on badly with Murphy, whom he demoted from defence spokesperson last year as Miliband’s aides branded him, “Disloyal”.

19. November 2014; Jim Murphy Will Stand For Holyrood Even If He Loses The Scottish Labour Leadership Election

a. Jim Murphy will leave Westminster and stand for the Scottish parliament even if he loses the Scottish Labour leadership election. Murphy, the MP for East Renfrewshire, is still favourite to become leader, but Neil Findlay MSP, the candidate backed by the majority of Scotland’s trade unions, has closed the gap to just 6%, according to polling seen by BBC Scotland. However, Murphy said he would stand for a seat in the Scottish parliament even if it meant taking a relatively unimportant role in Findlay’s Scottish Labour party. “Win, lose, or draw, that’s my plan,” he said, although he is not yet concerned about losing the increasingly tight leadership battle. “I’m never complacent, but I’m not worried. We’re having a contest, not a coronation, and I’m happy with how the campaign is going so far.”

b. Murphy spoke shortly after delivering a speech backing the full devolution of income tax to Scotland – a measure that he opposed only three weeks ago. “What’s changed for me is that the Barnett formula is now protected,” he said. “The worry we had was that [if] you devolve income tax but you don’t maintain the Barnett formula, that would be a bad deal for Scotland. We can now support the full devolution of income tax.” Labour officially supports sharing income tax between the Scottish and UK parliaments, but Murphy is bullish about being able to stamp his authority on a Scottish Labour party that ex-leader Johann Lamont said was treated as a “branch office” by “dinosaurs” in the UK party.

c. He said: “Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, I get on well with them, but they can read about my policies in the newspapers like everyone else. I’m big enough and ugly enough, I won’t be pushed around by anyone.” That, according to Murphy, includes the leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, who wrote a stinging attack on him, saying his election as leader would be “a death sentence” for Labour in Scotland. “Len has the right to say what he fancies, and Scotland has the right to say that he’s wrong,” said Murphy. “I grew up in a Glasgow housing scheme – I’m chilled out about it.” Murphy “admires the energy” of the SNP and thinks he would work well with first minister Nicola Sturgeon as “she loves Scotland as much as I do”, but was critical of the performance of his own party in Scotland. “We’ve not been good enough, and we’ve not been Scottish enough,” he said. “We have to change, and that’s what I’m trying to do.” The new Scottish Labour leader will be announced on 13 December.

20. November 2014; Senior Union official states – Trade unions want to stop Jim Murphy MP from becoming Scottish Labour leader because he’s a career politician

a. Gordon McKay, the Labour link chair of Unison, said his union chose to back Neil Findlay MSP’s bid rather than Murphy’s because Findlay “doesn’t come from a political elite”, and “didn’t start off with his career in politics”. “Neil Findlay is capable of getting our message out,” said McKay. “He’s been a brick layer, a teacher, a local Councillor before he got into Holyrood. He knows exactly what issues affect working people and their families.” Murphy, meanwhile, went straight from president of the National Union of Students to an official role with the Scottish Labour Party in 1996.

b. Union members have a third of the vote to decide who becomes the new leader, and proved to be decisive in the last Labour leadership election when they backed Ed Miliband. McKay hopes their influence will be enough to lift their man into leadership this time too. “We’ll be writing to our members to let them know our recommendation, we will be reminding people what Neil has done for our members, how he continually speaks up to defend our members,” said McKay. “We’ll be reminding people what the individual candidates are saying, and I would hope, after that, people will vote for Neil Findlay.”

c. McKay added that although Murphy’s “core values” are roughly the same as those of Unison members, “the main thing is winning the election, and he has more faith that ex-brickie Findlay would connect with voters and bring victory over the SNP and the Conservatives. People seem to believe the opposition to Labour in Scotland is the Tories, but it isn’t, it’s the SNP,” said McKay. We need to defeat them to make sure we don’t get a Tory government in Westminster. Neil ticks all the boxes that we’re looking for as a candidate to be leader of Scottish Labour. As far as I’m concerned, this election is absolutely up for grabs.”

21. November 2014; We didn’t listen” – Jim Murphy launches campaign with apology to the Scottish people

a. Jim Murphy will officially launch his campaign for the Scottish Labour leadership with a speech in Edinburgh today. He will focus on the Party’s failure to listen to the public, leading to subsequent defeats in 2007 and 2011. Murphy will use the experiences from his 100 towns tour, where he spent 100 days going around Scotland holding street meetings to campaign for a No vote this summer, to talk about the appetite for change around the country. “I want to apologise because twice Scots have said they didn’t think we were good enough to govern in Scotland – in 2007 and 2011. “We didn’t listen to them. That has to change.”

b. However, the contender does not go so far as to lay the blame with previous Scottish Labour leaders, praising them as “proud and passionate servants of our party and our country.” And he highlights that, despite poor performances in Holyrood election, Scottish Labour have continued to perform well in both Westminster and local elections (although recent polling shows that may be changing). It is not Labour ideals that have been rejected, he says, “it’s our vision for Scotland – or more truthfully our lack of vision.”

c. Murphy’s campaign has kicked off with a high media profile, with a positive profile in yesterday’s Guardian and several television interviews, and is the bookies’ favourite to win the contest. Today, he becomes the first candidate to make a major speech on the campaign. Neil Findlay, meanwhile, became the first candidate to win a trade union endorsement yesterday, with ASLEF throwing their support behind him.

d. Unite union have said they would like to hear more policy from Murphy. Pat Rafferty, the Scottish Secretary of the union, said: “Mr Murphy needs to put away his Irn Bru crate and start setting out what he stands for. This is an election about who can best deliver for working and community Scotland. We sincerely hope it will not be much longer before Jim Murphy tells us what policies he is promoting. Unite’s members want to know what he will do to reverse falling wages, attack poverty and defend our services. What matters is, whoever succeeds, what they do in power. Unite’s representative members will soon decide who to nominate on behalf of our union. On the basis of this speech, it is extremely difficult for them to find much to find hope that Jim Murphy is offering the genuine, positive change in Scottish Labour they seek. We urge him to use the coming days and weeks to give Labour voters much more substance to go on.”

22. November 2014; Jim Murphy: I’ll repeal SNP’s anti-sectarian football law

a. The legislation, passed in 2012, gave police and prosecutors extra powers to crack down on sectarian songs and abuse at football matches. It has met with opposition from fans’ groups, who believe they have been singled out unfairly, and some eminent legal figures. Dundee Sheriff Richard Davidson said it was “horribly drafted” and “mince”. Mr Murphy, MP for Eastwood, said: “If I am elected Scottish Labour Party leader and First Minister I will scrap the Football Act right away. “The law was an attempt to chase headlines rather than actually fix a complex problem. Sectarianism and intolerance goes far beyond 90 minutes on a Saturday or 140 characters in a tweet. “Instead of fixing the problem, they have created a pointless culture of mistrust between football fans and the police. The way to tackle intolerance and bigotry is every day in our classrooms and communities not with gimmick legislation. “Only when sectarianism in Scotland is seen by future generations to be just as unacceptable as racism and homophobia will we get rid of this stain on Scottish society for good. “The Football Act isn’t helping us towards the fair and tolerant Scotland we all want to live in. It has to go.”

b. Comment; The stain of sectarianism, primarily in the West of Scotland has been there since 1850 and will exist for many generations to come. Until reason within is commonplace there will remain a need for legislation such as introduced by the SNP government at the behest of the nation.

23. November 2014; A Vote for Jim Murphy In the Scottish Labour Leadership Election Is a Vote for a Tory Government In 2015

a. When it comes to the three candidates fighting it out for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party – Jim Murphy, Sarah Boyack, and Neil Findlay – if the Tories in Scotland and the SNP could cast a vote between November 17, when the ballot commences, and December 13, when the new leader is announced, you can be sure it would be for Jim Murphy. Why? Because with Murphy as leader the likelihood of a Tory government at Westminster in 2015 increases to the point of being guaranteed, and likewise the continued dominance of the SNP in Scotland, bringing with it renewed danger of the break-up of the United Kingdom.

b. This is the reason it is no exaggeration to state that the upcoming election of the next leader of Scottish Labour is the most important internal election in the party’s history, not only in Scotland but UK-wide. For on the result hinges not just the future of Scottish Labour but also the outcome of the 2015 general election and, even more importantly, the very future of the United Kingdom.

c. On 18 September 3.6 million people in Scotland cast a vote in a referendum on Scottish independence. The prospect of the break-up of a more than 300 year old political union was real. In their droves people voted Yes – 1.6 million to be exact – even though the programme for independence put forward by the Scottish National Party, the dominant force within the wider Yes campaign, rather than a significant departure from the status quo had status quo stamped all over it. Yet regardless 1.6 million people voted for independence, of which, according to a Lord Ashcroft poll after the referendum, 37% had voted Labour at the 2011 Holyrood elections.

d. When it comes to the main issues that drove support for Yes, the same poll identified 54% whose priority was concern over the future of the NHS and 74% who cited disaffection with Westminster politics. The truth is that the unemployed, people from low income communities, and those alienated from the status quo were more likely to have voted Yes, while the obverse was the case when it came to voting No. Four out of 32 local authorities voted Yes, with three of those – Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, and West Dunbartonshire – for decades impregnable Labour strongholds.

e. Only those in denial or suffering a severe case of myopia could fail to arrive at the conclusion that the referendum provided clear evidence of the deep political and ideological malaise that has gripped Scottish Labour, responsible for it shedding support to the SNP and one step away from its political grave. The sixty thousand new members that the SNP has attracted post referendum has bolstered not only the finances of the Scottish nationalists but more significantly their confidence. Compare this to the desultory 13,500 current membership of the Scottish Labour Party and the scale of the challenge facing the next leader of the party is considerable. Indeed in many parts of Scotland, Labour is every bit as reviled as the Tories, with the appellation Red Tories gaining currency.

f. An even more alarming poll when it comes to the crisis facing Scottish Labour was conducted by Ipsos Mori for Scottish Television. Its findings revealed that Labour in Scotland faces electoral wipeout at next year’s general election, on course to retain just four of its current 41 seats at Westminster.

g. Thus, not only Scottish Labour’s future success its very survival depends on the party electing a leader who understands the need to return to the founding values and principles upon which Labour came into being. It requires a political reorientation of the party towards the needs of ordinary working people, whose need for social and economic justice is non negotiable after four years of one of the most extreme Tory governments we have seen, engaged in the peddling of human despair under the aegis of austerity.

h. Jim Murphy is a politician wedded to Westminster and the ideals of Blairism; in other words the very policies that saw Labour shed five million votes between 1997 and 2010. An unapologetic supporter of the war in Iraq – indeed during a recent interview with the Fabian Society, when it came to Iraq, Murphy opined that, “It’s not Tony Blair’s fault.” – and still a supporter of the concept of British military intervention overseas regardless of the series of disasters that have resulted as a consequence in recent years, Murphy is also a supporter of the kind of cuts to public spending that have wrought so much damage to low income communities and the economy overall. During a 2011 interview with the Spectator magazine, for example, the former secretary of state for Scotland said that “the job for all of us now in the shadow cabinet is to work through our portfolios on just where we could make the savings, where would we make the cuts”.

i. A passion for cutting public spending, regardless of the damage to the economy and in particular the lives of working people and the poor, describes a mistaken understanding of economics as a morality play. For too long the emphasis has been on society serving the needs of the economy rather than an economy which serves the needs of society. Jim Murphy, as we have seen, is an adherent of the former and not the latter. In fact his credibility as a potential leader of the Labour Party in Scotland is largely derived from his willingness to stand on an Irn Bru crate in towns and cities throughout Scotland during the referendum campaign being abused by the general public. But if a talent for enduring public flagellation is the main criteria for the leadership of the party founded by Keir Hardie to address the needs of working people, Jesus Christ would be in the running. Ultimately, Mr Murphy stands proudly in this election as the candidate for New Labour at a time when Scotland is crying out for real Labour. Surely it is only those who have just awoken from a long slumber who would suggest otherwise.

24. November 2014; Labour leadership front-runner Jim Murphy set to back full income tax-raising powers for Holyrood

a. Scottish Labour leadership frontrunner Jim Murphy is backing full income tax-raising powers for Holyrood. He wants the party to agree with SNP and Tory representations to the Smith Commission on plans to devolve income tax. But his stance puts him at odds with senior party figures including former chancellors Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. In a speech today, the East Renfrewshire MP will throw his weight behind full income tax powers for the Scottish Parliament. Murphy will say: “If a Scottish Government wants to spend more, it will have to raise more. The buck will stop in Scotland.” He will use the speech to outflank main leadership rival Neil Findlay MSP.

25. November 2014; Labour’s Jim Murphy–at least he is honest about appealing to religious voters

a. The best that can be said about the appeal by Scottish Labour leadership contender Jim Murphy to religious voters is that, at least he is honest and transparent. Few other elected Scottish politicians openly profess their religious faith and their role in shoring up religious privileges in Scottish society. Most prefer not to make a public issue of the role of religion in politics for fear of upsetting influential religious minorities. They remain silent and assent to religious divisions in schooling, religious voting nominees on education committees, enforced religious observance in schools, and additional Scottish Government financial subsidies to religious organisations which already benefit from taxation relief because of their charitable status. Even the much vaunted democratic assembly that is the Scottish Parliament recoils from open public debate about these matters – suppressing attempts to have a public discussion of these and other religious privileges.

26. December 2014; Jim Murphy Fury at Secular Society chief’s ‘sectarian, anti-Catholic’ slur

a. Scottish Labour leadership hopeful Jim Murphy has hit back at remarks from a leading secular society figure accusing him of being “a catholic fanatic”, “a Pope Benedict fan” and “a religious fanatic”. The comments, made by Scottish Secular Society Founder Gary Otton on Facebook, have been dubbed “disturbing” and are “worryingly close to anti-Catholic sectarianism”, according to one of Scotland’s leading religious figures. The next Free Church of Scotland Moderator, Rev David Robertson, said the East Renfrewshire MP has been targeted by opponents because of his catholic faith.

27. December 2014; Scottish Labour leadership: Curran backs Murphy

a. In a sign all might not be going well for Jim Murphy, Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran says the Renfrewshire MP can reach out to Scots who ‘thought Labour had left them behind.’ Polling closes on Wednesday in the race to replace Johann Lamont, with Holyrood health spokesman Neil Findlay and former Scottish Government transport minister Sarah Boyack also in the running. Mrs Curran, the Glasgow East MP, says in an email to Labour members today that she wasn’t ‘planning to publicly back a candidate’ in the Scottish Labour party leadership election. But she said; “As this campaign has progressed it’s become increasingly clear how important this decision is for the future of the Scottish Labour Party.”

b. She added, “We won Glasgow East with drive, determination and by reaching out to the people who thought that Labour had left them behind. They’re the same qualities we need to put Scottish Labour back in the lead, and that’s what I’ve seen from Jim during this campaign. We need someone with ideas for how we can take Scotland forward and that’s exactly what he’s been talking about for the past five weeks.” She added that Mr Murphy, the former Scottish Secretary, showed he is ready to take the fight to the SNP with his 100 days tour during the referendum which drew organised picketing from hardline Nationalists. Mr Murphy said: “I am delighted to have Margaret Curran’s support for Scottish Labour leader. Having served in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments, and as a Scottish Government minister, she knows what Scottish Labour needs to succeed. I look forward to working closely with Margaret if I am elected leader.”

28. December 2014; Scottish Secular Society Founder Gary Otton accuses Murphy of being “a catholic fanatic”, “a Pope Benedict fan” and “a religious fanatic”.

a. Otton posted four different Facebook threads about Murphy in the space of two days, all making reference to Murphy’s religion and support for denominational schools. Robertson described some of the comments as “disturbing”. He said, “the Scottish Secular Society have posted several stories about ‘Catholic fanatic/extremist/Pope Benedict fan’ Jim Murphy over the past few days. I find it particularly disturbing this constant referral to Jim Murphy as Roman Catholic – what does that have to do with anything? It comes worryingly close to the kind of anti-Catholic sectarianism that plagued the West of Scotland – perhaps it still does. It is of no relevance or interest to me that a particular political candidate is Roman Catholic or not. Mr Murphy should be judged on his political views and abilities, not what church he belongs to. It is ironic that of all groups the Scottish Secular Society continues to highlight religious affiliation as though this were somehow a disqualifying factor.”

b. But Otton defended his remarks. saying, “The Scottish Secular Society have no problem with Mr Murphy’s beliefs, but a very great problem with the way in which we fear they will influence his political decisions. In particular, we don’t approve of support for the idea that bishops can be put in charge of sex education in Catholic schools. We are also concerned that he will defend privileges for organised religion, segregating children on the basis of their parents’ religion in denominational schools with separate staff rooms and entrances. We are utterly opposed to sectarianism in any shape or form. There is also general agreement amongst secularists that unelected religious representatives, both Catholic and Church of Scotland, voting on how Councils should deploy their limited education budgets is absurd. Murphy has been reported in the press praising the US because religion has a bigger role in politics. That is not a scenario the Scottish Secular Society would welcome in Scotland. Opinions on Facebook’s Secular Scotland are personal and social media is the appropriate place to express them. The Scottish Secular Society is the appropriate organisation to challenge the religious privileges.”

29. December 2014; Jim Murphy on patriotism, socialism and Labour’s future

a. Jim Murphy loves Scotland. I know this because he assures me of it at least a dozen times in a half-hour interview. Scotland is his country. He’s proud of it. He intends to do well by it. Asked why he wants to lead Scottish Labour, the first thing he says is, “It sounds trite, but I love my country.” This expression of national pride is jarring because the SNP has so comprehensively co-opted the language of patriotism. That Murphy is comfortable talking about his love of country sets him apart from so many Scottish Labour politicians in recent years. That’s not all that makes him different. He loves his Irn-Bru and his Celtic – some sort of football club popular in the West of Scotland, m’lud — and for a politician he seems remarkably, well, normal. He’s the only vegetarian I’ve ever spent more than three minutes with and not wanted to punch. He has a sense of humour, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and though he speaks with evident passion about creating a fairer society, it is clear that politics is not his life. “I’ve never been a favourite in an election but I’ve never come second,” he points out, before chewing it over and adding: “There’s three candidates in this race so maybe I’ll come third this time and keep that record.”

b. He’s the sort of bloke you could have a pint with. Except he’s teetotal. (An abstemious vegetarian? Applying to lead Scottish Labour? At a time like this? If he wins, I give it six months before he gets tanked on half a Bacardi Breezer and challenges Len McCluskey to a square go in a Nando’s car park.)

c. In the Scottish Labour leadership election, Murphy stands out as the only MP contesting for the top job. A former president of the National Union of Students (where he made himself a power of enemies by reversing the NUS’s opposition to scrapping grants), he pulled off a surprise win in the safe Tory seat of Eastwood in 1997. He has retained the seat, now known as East Renfrewshire, ever since and despite the best efforts of the Conservatives to win back the prosperous suburban constituency.

d. Although often branded a Blairite, his political star came into the ascendancy when Gordon Brown took over at Number Ten and Murphy was appointed Europe minister and later Secretary of State for Scotland, a position from which he masterminded Labour’s successful 2010 election in Scotland.

e. His 100 Towns in 100 Days tour of Scotland during the independence referendum was seen as both a welcome energy boost for the Better Together campaign and a brazen pitch to replace the ineffective Johann Lamont as Scottish Labour leader. (It was also a tactic blatantly nicked from Neil Kinnock – coincidentally, a recent Murphy backer – who figured out early on that the 1983 general election was lost and drove round the country with a megaphone denouncing Thatcherism and positioning himself to succeed Michael Foot.) Murphy infamously attracted Nationalist hecklers to his soapbox speeches, their roiling anger – and flying dairy produce – betraying the threat they deemed him to pose.

f. If Labour’s electoral college of MPs, MSPs, members, and unions award him the job, Nationalists think Murphy’s 17-year record at Westminster will provide them with endless lines of attack:- His support for tuition fees; his vote for military action in Iraq; his parliamentary expenses.

g. The problem is that anyone who won’t vote Labour because Jim Murphy supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein stopped voting Labour a long time ago and probably never will again. Murphy himself recognises the need to move on from New Labour, while careful to pay the necessary obeisance to that project and the leader who brought Labour back out of the wilderness.

h. He explains: “New Labour is a way of thinking and of designing your politics that was of the moment in the mid-90s. It’s 20 years of age and it’s time to do things a bit differently. I’m not fascinated by whether people are left-wing or right-wing, New or Old Labour, I want us to be winning Labour.”

i. The time has come, he reckons, to step beyond the party’s most successful leader: “I think we need a post-Tony Blair Labour Party that’s patriotic, that’s radical. The Labour Party’s had six leaders since Tony Blair: two UK leaders and four Scottish leaders. It’s time for us to move on. Tony Blair was the right answer to the questions of his era. He’s a long time gone so it’s time to move on and be more confident about our future rather than continually harking on and looking in our rear-view mirror about our past.”

k. Murphy is not the candidate to bring disaffected lefties back into the fold. They have gone to the fringes or to the SNP, socialist Scotland’s favourite neoliberal party. His appeal is to the mainstream Labour voter, including those who have become more comfortable voting SNP in recent years. But as he argued during the Scotland Tonight leadership hustings, his pitch reaches further than that. “I don’t think we can just talk to Labour voters,” he said. “There aren’t enough of them.”

l. That means driving Labour’s tanks onto the SNP’s lawns just as brazenly as Alex Salmond did to Labour over the last decade. For the most committed SNP supporters, independence is everything but amongst the Nationalists’ impressive electoral coalition there are many, including Yes voters, who have other priorities.

m. Cast your mind back, if you can, to a time before the referendum campaign, when we had entire conversations and even parliamentary debates about things other than the constitution. Murphy’s task is to return the political debate to education, health, and the economy – and to offer voters bold alternatives to the SNP. His Blairite credentials might even come in handy here.

n. Scottish politics needs a substantial opposition figure other than Tory leader Ruth Davidson who is willing to think the unthinkable in order to reform education, improve the NHS, and create jobs. There is real scope to take on some of the SNP’s sacred cows, particularly their hostility to the non-state sectors, and offer parents, patients, businesspeople, public sector workers, and taxpayers policies driven by outcomes rather than the SNP’s uneasy mixture of populism and ideology.

o. How bold Murphy is willing or inclined to be remains to be seen, but he is determined to reach out to everyone necessary to win, including Yes voters. He maintains: “You have to move beyond the referendum. You don’t win people’s affections by telling them they were wrong… It’s about reaching out to these folk and making a patriotic case that we believe in similar things; we just disagree about how to achieve them. On the basis that we’ve now decided the constitutional arrangements of Scotland for a generation, as we were told, then let’s work together.

p. “If ever there’s a referendum again, we’ll be on different sides of that probably, but let’s work together in the meantime and try to create a better society. The challenge for the Labour Party is to be a party again that people can see a cause of social justice in. For example, I want to put income tax up to 50% as part that.”

q. That left tilt is perfectly balanced by a pitch to the middle ground. “In terms of aspirational voters, it’s about guaranteeing that if you go to work you’ll be better off in work than if you are on benefit. Now that parts of the welfare state are going to be devolved to Scotland, that’s important. It’s also about saying to people they deserve a decent home and it they want to own their home, I’m happy about that. I’m in favour of more people owning their home.” He wouldn’t reinstate the Right to Buy but wants to ensure there are enough houses, council, social, and private, to end homelessness. Murphy insists he is a socialist, a claim that his critics and even some of his supporters would scoff at. The MP for East Renfrewshire is not someone you’d mistake for a Morning Star seller standing outside a boarded-up Woolworth’s on a drizzly Saturday morning. But Comrade Murphy has his own definition:

r. “Everyone who’s comfortable with that title had a different definition. For me it means it doesn’t matter where you’re born or the family you’re born into, you should have a fair chance. And you should get a second and third chance in life. Strident, right-wing Conservatism has a sense of you being on your own; it’s like advanced social Darwinism – the survival of the fittest. I think every human being is created equal and people should have an equal chance. “It’s up to people what you do with your chance but my politics are that you should get a first chance, a second chance, a third chance. But you only get one shot at life and a politician’s job is to help you make the most of your life. If you don’t take your chances, there’s nothing I can do about that, but I’m a patient person and I’d like to give people multiple chances and choices. That’s my socialism. Others have their own definition.”

t. I don’t buy Murphy’s definition for a second but it is obvious that justice in one form or another is the nucleus of his political philosophy. While most Labour politicians learn about injustice from The Road to Wigan Pier or The Soul of Man under Socialism, Murphy lived it first hand during his early years in South Africa. His parents were driven there in search of work and better opportunities for their family. What greeted the 12-year-old Jim was the moral obscenity of apartheid. He describes a thread of segregation that ran through every aspect of public and private life. It is the only point during the interview that he’s subdued and his voice takes on a sadness that seems to come from another time and place. He recounts: “It was a bizarre nightmare of a society, where the only thing that mattered was the colour of your skin. In a country where almost 90% of the country were black Africans, you could easily go weeks without coming into contact with anyone other than someone of the same skin colour. You would stand at a Whites Only bus stop to go to a Whites Only school. You would travel on Whites Only buses. It was an unforgivable type of politics but the remarkable thing is that so many South Africans have forgiven.”

u. He adds: “I had to go to a Whites Only school where you had to learn Afrikaans, you had to be bilingual. Every Thursday you had to turn up to school in your cadet uniform and march up and down the rugby field to prepare to go and serve two years in the South African army. The society was structured around the maintenance of a minority politics. The media was controlled by the state, the curriculum was influenced by the state’s racism, sport was used to bolster a white supremacy. Then, like the Berlin Wall, it all just fell over.”

v. He paints a harrowing picture of a society that practised totalitarianism over the human spirit. It is, however, where he felt the first stirrings of political radicalism. He recalls: “Nelson Mandela’s name was banned — and his photograph. You weren’t allowed to say his name and the newspapers weren’t allowed to print his name or his photograph or they would have been shut down. It’s a remarkable experience to have your political consciousness forged in a place where democratic politics wasn’t tolerated and the biggest decisions you’ve got to make are daily ones about the way in which you live your life. “Do you buy into the casual, all-encompassing racism that dominated your education and dominated the culture of the country? I chose to opt out of that in all sorts of different ways. You find a social circle that wants nothing to do with it. You find ways of arguing against it. Then when it comes to the big decision about whether you’re going to serve in the South African army, I left the country.”

w. The move, he interjects, was not motivated by pacifism or cowardice. “I wasn’t going to spend two years of my life propping up the vile beast that was apartheid.” Instead he went to Glasgow, to study at Strathclyde University, and it was years before he saw the family he had left behind in Cape Town again. There’s that sadness again, but his tone quickly turns upbeat when he remembers that the experience, and the British Government’s stance on apartheid, drove him to political activism. “Mrs Thatcher got me to join the Labour Party,” he announces with pride. The late Conservative Prime Minister had opposed international sanctions against South Africa and deemed the African National Congress a terrorist outfit rather than a liberation movement. “I had just returned from that country and couldn’t understand it at all.” Now, a quarter of a century on, Murphy wants to lead his party, or at least its Scottish “branch office”. He could hardly have picked a worse time, given the party’s continuing opposition at Holyrood, dreadful poll numbers, and an SNP surging towards 100,000 members and a possible break though at Westminster next May.

x. The real obstacle to his political ambitions is the new First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon is a social democrat’s dream come true, a politician so perfectly attuned to the ideals and impulses of north European progressivism that she could almost have walked off the set of her favourite TV programme Borgen. Quite how that fits with a party that campaigns for corporate tax cuts and a services-slashing council tax freeze is a dynamic yet to play itself out. But as personal polling numbers show, this contradiction does not weigh on the minds of the electorate, who consistently rate the First Minister above any other politician in trust and effectiveness.

y. Ask Murphy if the SNP is a “left-of-centre” party and I’ve barely reached the question mark before he rejects the idea. Surely, I push, Nicola Sturgeon’s politics are more clearly aligned with Labour voters than Alex Salmond’s ever were. “We’ll see what Nicola Sturgeon is, we’ve yet to see what she really is. I think she’s effective, I think she’s formidable. Nicola Sturgeon will be what she needs to be to build a coalition to get independence. The SNP are unencumbered by an economic anchor; they will drift wherever they need to go to build a coalition that gets them to 50% plus one of the votes in any future referendum.”

z. Outside Glasgow and the west, he assures me, many of the SNP’s supporters are not left-wing and lend their vote to the Nationalists as the “anyone but Labour” party. However, in Labour’s traditional working-class heartlands, he recognises how much work has to be done. He concedes: “In terms of the central belt, the Labour Party hasn’t been good enough. That’ll change. We haven’t been strong enough, we haven’t been proud enough, we haven’t been radical enough.” That radicalism need not mean ideological policies, he argues, and should include overlooked and unpopular issues like mental health and prison reform. But he is convinced that Labour alone is the platform on which a progressive politics can be built.

30. “Radical social reform in our country comes from the Labour Party, when it comes to things like ending discrimination based on people’s sexuality, driving out discrimination based on gender, the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, all the great social reforms in our country – the national minimum wage, devolution, freedom of information – all of these supported – such as the minimum pricing of alcohol – there’s a lot more that can be done.” Still, if Murphy wins — and that’s not guaranteed; Labour’s trade union money men aren’t keen on him — he faces a monumental challenge. He will be leading a party that has lost the votes, the patience, and frankly the goodwill of the people of Scotland. Murphy talks a good game but that will matter for little if the voters no longer want to listen.

31. But he has skill and wit and charm. He sounds like a leader and looks like a First Minister. He also has necessity on his side. He is spoken of by his supporters as the only candidate who can make Scottish Labour electable again. That is for Labour members and trade unionist voters to decide. The bigger decision for this party is whether it should continue to be relevant to the political life of Scotland. Political parties that dominate electoral systems, as Labour has done in Scotland for half a century, come to confuse their dominance for permanence. But nations change and parties that fail to change with them are left behind. Consider the fate of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party, the Democrat Party in the American South, or closer to home and a century back the Liberal Party. There is no law in heaven or earth that says the Scottish Labour Party must endure. Labour responded to its defeat in 2007 by going into denial. In the wake of its 2011 drubbing, it gave the impression of a party that had still not come to terms with its electoral reversal and had lost the will to fight back. The opinion polls for next May’s general election and the 2016 Scottish Parliament vote hint at results ranging from dire to apocalyptic.

32. Murphy seems acutely aware of the odds stacked against his party at the moment. “The Scottish Labour Party is the underdog. Scottish Labour is used to being the champion of the underdog; it hasn’t often found itself to be the underdog.” Under his leadership, the party will “get out of the recently acquired habit of losing”. What would a Murphy-run, non-losing Scottish Labour look like? “We would have a much more professional party, a better-funded party, a much more confident party that takes its chin off its chest and stands up for itself. That says our cause is as great as the Nationalists’, if not greater. The sense of solidarity in our country and beyond and the knowledge that a boundary or a border has never put food in the tummy of any kid anywhere in the world. It’s about energy, optimism, and a sense of self-belief. “We win, we hold what we have in 2015 and we go into a two-horse race against the Nats in 2016 where I think we can build a coalition of people, some of whom have always voted Labour and some of whom have never voted Labour. And in a two-horse race, I’m pretty confident we’ll win.” It can’t be easy to summon up that kind of optimism at these times but the positivity seems genuine. It shouldn’t be allowed to lapse into complacency. Scottish Labour is a party fast running out of chances. Jim Murphy will be hoping members see him as one of those chances — and grab it while they can.

33. December 2014; Scotland and Trident: two words Ed Miliband can’t afford to ignore

a. Unless Ed Miliband changes course on Trident replacement, Labour risks losing not only the general election, but losing its Scottish heartland for good. No matter how much Westminster politicians may wish to put Trident on the back burner for the general election, the reality is that’s not going to happen. Our friends north of the border – where up to 75 per cent oppose Trident irrespective of their position on independence – will make sure of that. The leader with the biggest headache over this is currently Ed Miliband: the question of Labour policy on Britain’s possession of nuclear weapons – currently located in Scotland – can make or break a Labour victory and a future Labour government.

b. Currently the very future of Labour – as a major player in Scotland’s politics – is at stake. Since the referendum, the parties that backed the No vote have taken a nose dive, as thousands have flocked to the parties of the Yes camp, from SNP through Greens, and SSP. Scottish civil society has taken on a whole new look, with widespread popular engagement at an all-time high. Labour is particularly badly hit and opinion polls suggest that it could lose as many as 31 Westminster seats in May’s general election. Reports from within the party suggest high levels of anger and dissatisfaction – about what the party now stands for and who decides where it is going. Johann Lamont’s resignation as leader seemed to sum up much of the problem as she accused Westminster Labour colleagues of trying to run Scotland “like a branch office of London”.

c. It may be that there is no way back in the current context – especially when Gordon Brown’s last ditch promises of vote-winning ‘devo-max’ aren’t being honoured and Nicola Sturgeon offers a more left-wing variant of SNP politics that is potentially attractive to Labour voters. So any hope of a Labour recovery, however marginal, surely hinges now on the outcome of the current Scottish Labour leadership contest where once again Trident is a big factor. A new leader can have a significant impact on where the party is situated politically.

d. Labour’s leadership is backing the pro-Trident former shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy. But it’s hard to see how Murphy will be able to win support back to Labour on that basis, particularly when significant working class communities in Glasgow and Dundee were lost so recently to the Yes camp.

e. Of course Jim Murphy isn’t the only option presented to Scottish Labour. Neil Findlay, the most strongly anti-Trident of the other candidates, also presents a policy platform which could help win back voters across a range of current economic and social concerns; areas where traditionally Labour has won strong support but Westminster Labour policies are no longer where Scottish voters are at. These include raising the minimum wage, the reintroduction of council house building and the reduction of private sector involvement in the NHS. If he wins the Scottish leadership on 13 December, Findlay’s active anti-nuclear stance will no doubt win Labour votes – and will force Ed Miliband to look again at Trident replacement.

f. That imperative may well come from other Scottish sources too. In the event that the SNP takes a significantly increased number of Westminster seats – some estimates are as high as 47 it’s possible that it may hold the balance of power in a hung parliament, in the same way that the Liberal Democrats did in 2010. Nicola Sturgeon has already said that she won’t make a Conservative government possible but she’s already named her price for SNP support for a minority Labour government: Trident has to be removed from Scotland. One way or another, Ed Miliband is having to confront the Trident issue. And whether he likes it or not, it has to be tackled, as these developments show. Kicking it into the long grass of internal party policy debates is just not adequate. The Scots may have forced the issue up the political agenda, but Trident – and whether to replace it – is a crucial issue for us all.

34. Annual Cost Travel, Accomodation, Subsistence, Office Rental & Running Costs – 2110-2014

a. 2010-2011

Accomodation £11,513 (6 Months Rent of Flat, Hotel Accomodation, Rates, Council Tax)

Constituency £9,456 (Office Rental, Rates, Services. Telephones, Insurances)

General Admin £8,960 (£1,300 Cellphone Rental, £1,900 Stationery, £2,256 Telephone System Rental, £1,239 Photocopy rental & charges, £470 Surveyor Costs, £2000 Staff contingency)

Travel £14,837 (travel by air, car, rail, taxi)

Staffing £21397 (Pooled staff professional fees)

Total £68215

b. 2011-2012

Accomodation £11,948 (Rent of Flat 8 months)

Constituency £20,679 (6 months Office Rental & Rates, £1500 Stationery/Adv, £1400 Photocopier Rental, £10,000 Shared Office Costs)

General Admin £1,456 (Telephone Rental, Mobile Phone Rental, Stationery)

Travel £25,528 (£23,500 MP Travel by Air, Car, Rail, Taxi + £2,500 Staff Travel & Accomodation Costs)

Staffing £21,035 (Pooled staff Professional fees)

Total £95,550

c. 2012-2013

Accomodation £22,554 (14 Months Rent of flat London + ancillary costs)

Constituency £18,240 (£8,377 Office Rent/Rates, £1,806 Telephone Rental, £1790 Stationery, £1,300 Insurances/Trg/Professional Fees, £4120 Shared Office Costs)

Staffing £35,939 (Pooled staff Professional fees)

Travel £18,938 (£14,989 MP Travel by Air, Car, Rail, Taxi + £2,200 Staff Travel & Accomodation Costs)

Total £80,767

d. 2013-2014

Accomodation £19,953 (Rent of Flat London 12 months + Ancillary Costs)

Constituency £22,195 (£10,384 Office Rent/Rates/Ins, £2653 Stationery, £2,150 Photocopier Rental, £1,100 Prof Fees, £1,784 Office Running Costs)

Travel £16,553 (£15,353 (MP Travel by Air, Car, Rail, Taxi + £1,200 Staff Travel & Accomodation Costs)

Staffing £138,268

Total £196,969