Jim Murphy would be a disaster

Submitted by AWL on 4 November, 2014 - 5:56 Author: Dale Street

Neil Findlay, the left candidate in the contest now opening for leader of the Scottish Labour Party, is a "list" MSP, elected in 2011. He has an established record of taking up trade union issues, such as blacklisting, the role of the police during the miners' strike, and the Living Wage.

He has the support of the Campaign for Socialism. Unison, ASLEF and the TSSA have already agreed to nominate him, and Unite is expected to do likewise.

In the deputy leader contest Katy Clark MP is standing as the left candidate, while Kezia Dugdale MSP will probably be the candidate of the right.

Actvists need to ensure that any trade unions, CLPs or Affiliated Societies of which they are a member submit nominations for Neil Findlay and Katy Clark by 14 November. Balloting commences on 17 November.

Jim Murphy is the right-wing New Labour candidate in the leadership contest.

Murphy was a student at Strathclyde University for nine years, but left without graduating. During Murphy's stint as NUS President in the mid-1990s the NUS dropped its policy of opposition to the abolition of student grants.

A subsequent House of Commons motion, signed by 18 Labour MPs, condemned Murphy for his "intolerant and dictatorial behaviour."

From being an eternal student, Murphy moved straight into Parliament, winning the previously safe Tory seat of Eastwood in 1997. His record in Parliament since then has been one of unquestioning and uncritical loyalty to Blairism. Not once has he ever rebelled in a vote.

Murphy backed Blair's wars, supported tuition fees, and voted for the benefits cap - but did not bother to turn up to vote against the bedroom tax.

He is a member of the right-wing Henry Jackson Society, sends his children to fee-paying schools, and was identified in 2012 as one of the Westminster MPs who rent out their London homes while claiming public money to rent other accommodation in London.

In the 2010 Labour Party leadership contest Murphy was one of David Miliband's campaign managers. He subsequently opposed Ed Miliband's decision not to back Tory plans for military intervention in Syria. At the time of the Ineos dispute and Falkirk re-selection contest, he went out of his way to publicly attack Unite.

Murphy embodies the New Labour policies which cost the Labour Party millions of votes and hundreds of thousands of members after 1997 - and also cost Labour the Holyrood elections of 2007 and 2011.

Although the media are already portraying Murphy as the frontrunner in the contest, his election as leader would be a disaster for Scottish Labour and the people whom the party was created to represent.

As one contributor to the Glasgow "Herald" has put it:

"I honestly don't get it. I'm genuinely trying not to be rude or facile, but this is surely someone most of us would not have in our homes, regardless of where our politics lie, so where's his appeal? A track record of personal greed, being on the wrong side, and failure. Does shouting the loudest qualify you to lead a country?"

Already Scottish Labour has lost support on such a scale that it risks having as few MPs as it had in the years before the First World War.

When Johann Lamont resigned as Scottish Labour leader on 24 October it was not because of belated pangs of conscience about her infamous Thatcherite speech of September 2012, in which she attacked Scotland's supposed "something for nothing" culture.

In that speech she attacked free personal care for the elderly, free higher education, and free prescriptions. It was - and is - Scottish Labour policy to support all three. The first two were introduced by a Labour-Lib Dem administration in Holyrood. Labour has also claimed the credit for the third.

She did not resign because she suddenly realised what a disastrous folly it was to have tied Scottish Labour - without any discussion in the broader party - into an alliance with the Tories and the Lib-Dems in the referendum campaign ("Better Together").

She did not resign because she felt to blame for the fact that, despite an overall "No" majority in the referendum, what had once been the Labour heartlands of Dundee and the West of Scotland voted "Yes".

No, Johann Lamont resigned, as she explained through the pages of the Daily Record, because of attempts to undermine her by some Westminster Labour MPs, because of opposition by such MPs to a further devolution of powers to Scotland, and because the Labour Party in London looked on Scottish Labour as a branch office.

A week after Lamont's resignation deputy leader Anas Sarwar also resigned, generously saying that the Scottish Labour should have the opportunity to elect a new leader/deputy leader team which "should be focused on Holyrood."

But according to the well-informed LabourList website, Sarwar is being lined up for a Shadow Cabinet post in an upcoming reshuffle. And Sarwar's resignation also provided a boost to Jim Murphy's campaign for leader.

If Sarwar had not resigned, Murphy would have to explain why the Scottish Labour should have a leader and deputy leader who were both Westminster MPs. Sarwar's resignation removed this obstacle to Murphy's ambitions.

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