2014 Referendum, 2015 General Election, Constitutionalism, Ed Miliband, Humor, Jim Murphy, Labour, New Labour, Opinion, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Labour, Scottish Nationalism, SNP, Tony Blair, Toryism
Tychy opposes the idea that what the Left really needs at this point in the coma is a nationalist revival. We are never going to build over half a million new homes or more nuclear power stations or hubs of regenerative medicine if we become distracted by proceduralism. The SNP’s passionate ambitions for a Scottish state have the advantage of compensating for a thoroughly unambitious programme of government. The fetishising of gleaming new administrative machinery makes up for the dreariness of government policy. Or maybe I’m wrong – perhaps 67000 people have joined the SNP since September out of mass enthusiasm for policies such as minimum alcohol pricing.
So, who – or rather, what – is Tychy forced to side with in battling Scottish nationalism? Let’s meet Jim Murphy, the new leader of the Scottish Labour party. He claims that, under his leadership, Labour will not lose a single seat to the SNP in next year’s general election.
You’ll be aware, I’m sure, of the Ed Miliband paradox. Earlier in the year, there was a consensus throughout the whole of the UK Labour party that their leader, Ed Miliband, was completely useless. After a lengthy leadership crisis, with grandees bickering and activists in dismay, the party came to the conclusion that they were all completely useless. To Labour’s surprise, Miliband had emerged as their perfect leader.
If Jim Murphy strikes you as being a ruined, haggard figure, then he is already embodying the characteristics of his party. Let’s look back over his career. In 2012 it was revealed that Murphy was profiting from an expenses loophole which essentially paid him public money for a London property which he then rented out. If this happened in any other country, we would unthinkingly refer to it as “corruption,” but there is a general squeamishness about using such a chilling word to describe our own representatives. Our expenses veteran still had the temerity to refer to his new leadership as “a fresh start.”
Of course, he supported the Iraq war, but the public are bored with this old rope by now. In 2003, I thought that Eminem was making significant music, so maybe we should agree to put 2003 behind us. More concerning, however, is Murphy’s drumming for military intervention in Syria last year, despite the lack of any war aims, military strategy, or identifiable allies. It’s a good thing that Murphy was saved from himself, because he would be otherwise presently allied with the Islamic state. Mind you, given the scarcity of talented Labour politicians in Scotland, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might bring some valuable life experience to Murphy’s shadow cabinet.
Murphy was himself bombed in Kirkcaldy before the independence referendum, albeit with eggs. This was apparently the most exciting moment in any speech that he has ever given. The absence of any reasons to vote for Unionism has now flowed seamlessly into the relaunch of a political party without any unique policies. Murphy’s one commitment – taxing 50p on the top rate of income tax – is already an SNP policy. When interviewed by Gordon Brewer yesterday, he promised to “involve people who aren’t in the Labour party, some people who vote Labour, people who have never voted Labour, and get those fresh ideas and then strengthen our party.” It’s not the most encouraging invitation: come and join our party, but bring your own policies because we don’t have any. Yet the hunt is now on! As with Ed Miliband, there is a lingering honeymoon period in which Murphy is referred to throughout the UK media as being akin to a philosopher prince. This is combined with a growing, polite interest in what he is supposed to stand for now that he has been elected.
In manoeuvring the Labour party, he is all over the place. He wants to out-nationalist the nationalists, by rewriting clause 4 of the Scottish Labour party’s constitution to make it sound more patriotic. “Socialism in one country” might be a catchy title for such a clause. I’m not sure that a dictator can take over the Labour party and rewrite what it stands for – there might have to be a vote somewhere down the line – but if you can rewrite (rather than amend) a constitution, then what’s the point of having a constitution? The bloody thing is meant to fix your core values in cement.
Despite slopping some more patriotism into the sickly cocktail, the Scottish Labour party are still toasting their Westminster headquarters. Voting Labour in Scotland, we are told, might not do anything to improve our lives, but it will prevent the Tories from forming a UK majority government after the general election. This is just a Scottish echo of Ed Miliband’s insistence that he doesn’t stand for anything other than not standing for Toryism. The SNP, having tried to found an entire nation on anti-Tory spite, are now on the receiving end of their own miserable 1980s nostalgia.
Murphy has a lot in common with Miliband, but also with Tony Blair. Blair is currently a figure of almost goblinesque horror and Murphy is just as physically freakish. He looks something like a spindly velociraptor in a ginger toupee who has been trained to impersonate Blair. Like a velociraptor, Murphy is horribly alert, but he can do the full repertoire of Blair’s floppy hand gestures and deathly stares. Like Miliband, however, he is genuinely freakish: a teetotal vegetarian and health fanatic, with a lifestyle as remote from the world of the street as that of an Arab strongman.
There is an uneasy expectation that Murphy will be somehow smuggled into the Scottish parliament, probably via a Labour safe seat in 2016 (if any still exist by then). The Lallands Peat blogger makes the point that the British security services might have to bump off an existing parliamentarian if Murphy wants to enter Holyrood prior to the election. Actually, Murphy must be desperately anxious that no MSP dies in untimely circumstances over the next couple of years. It would be mortifying. At the funeral, he wouldn’t know where to look.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed meeting our newest general in the war against the nationalists, the man who I will campaign for and alongside. He might be the scum of Westminster but he’s the cream of Scottish Unionism. Three cheers for Jim Murphy!