by Daniel Charelston-Downes
Labour, according to the New Statesman, is now 20 points behind the SNP in Westminster voting intentions. This would see an almost virtual wipeout of Scottish seats for Labour and goes some way to explaining why Nicola Sturgeon was so keen to welcome the new Scottish Labour leadership with words of unity and collaboration. It seems SNP are preparing for, even expecting, coalition partnership.
Jim Murphy’s leadership has come at a crucial time for Scottish Labour. When Lamont talked of her despair at Scottish Labour being treated as a branch office, she hit close to home with all Scottish voters. London-centric politics is killing the main parties in Scotland and will take Labour down leaving the SNP the last man standing.
The moment Tony Blair’s name became sacrilegious in my household growing up was when he abandoned Clause IV. With Murphy using the language of the Clause, he is clearly trying to evoke memories of that kind of reform within the party and the wave of electoral success that brought with it. A rehashed statement of intent for Scotland is an attempt to move Labour into a ‘reformer’ platform.
However what Scottish voters liked about Salmond and continue to appreciate in Sturgeon is their lack of political machinery.
Where Murphy will struggle, and where his use of Blairite language displays a complete lack of understanding, is that he is viewed as the worst kind of career politician. He is straight out of Westminster. He has bounced from education, to the National Union of Students presidency, to think tanks and policy groups and now parliament. He has always seen Scotland through Labour eyes.
If Labour is ever to win a majority again they are going to need to gain Scotland back. The SNP are a much greater threat to the Labour party than UKIP are to anyone, they are doing a much more successful job of converting anti-Westminster sentiment into seats than any other British party.
The list of votes that were published from members of the two parliaments show that overwhelming those in the established mainstream of the party supported Murphy. His move to being leader of the Scottish Labour party is a career move, one eye is on Holyrood and the other is firmly fixed on his prospects within Westminster. Scottish voters see that, and they don’t like it.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren became a sensation recently with her straight-talking, anti-establishment analysis of banking. Suddenly, she is a major player in the next Presidential election. The reason why she is being lauded is because the public, and to a certain extent he media, believe her intent to be honest and her ideology to be sincere.
There is a space for that sort of dialogue in British politics, in particular with Scotland where voters are desperate to see Scottish interests put above those of Westminster. Let Murphy put together a Clause IV that genuinely provides a framework for Scottish self-determination and places Scotland at the centre of British politics and Labour could stand a fighting chance North of the border.
Dan Downes is a Labour campaigner, a secondary school teacher and blogs at http://redgrassroots.wordpress.com/