The challenges facing Jim Murphy are immense

The new Scottish Labour leader will need to show Scottish voters that the party north of the border is able to think independently.

The new Scottish Labour leader will need to show Scottish voters that the party north of the border is able to think independently

As Jim Murphy begins his first week at the helm of Scottish Labour, he would do well to contemplate the Sun/You Gov poll of Scottish voters published over the weekend.

The good news for Scottish Labour is that when voters were asked which of the candidates to lead the party they preferred, Jim Murphy came out on top, enjoying the support of 29 per cent of respondents. That, however, is about all there is to cheer about, given that 52 per cent simply did not know who would make the best leader.

The news gets grimmer still. Asked which party leader on a UK stage is doing best at their job, Ed Miliband gets the support of just eight per cent of voters north of the border, behind Nigel Farage on 10 per cent, David Cameron on 19 per cent and the new first minister Nicola Sturgeon on 43 per cent.

With a General Election next year, voting intention polls suggest that it could be in Scotland that Labour’s hopes of making it to Downing Street are shattered.

Asked how they would vote, 27 per cent said Labour, a full 20 percentage points behind on the SNP who enjoy the support of 47 per cent of respondents, up by four per cent since the last poll of this kind carried out by YouGov in October.

The Conservatives meanwhile are on 16 percent, up one per cent from October, while the Lib Dems in Scotland have slumped to just three per cent of the vote.

According to the Scotland Votes seat calculator, if replicated at the General Election next year, these results would see the number of Scottish Labour MPs fall from 41 to just six. The SNP meanwhile, would increase their representation at Westminster from six to 52.

The Scottish Lib Dems would lose 10 of their current 11 MPs while the Tories, despite increasing their share of the vote, would lose the 1 MP they currently have in Scotland.

Asked how they would vote if there were an independence referendum tomorrow meanwhile, 48 per cent of voters said yes, while 45 per cent said no.

51 per cent of respondents felt that the Smith Commission’s proposals for further devolution for Scotland don’t go far enough.  The sense of alienation with Westminster is palpable; 55 per cent of respondents said they have more confidence in the Scottish Parliament to make the right decisions for them and their family. Just 17 per cent said Westminster.

Jim Murphy should this morning be considering how he can carve out a reputation for himself as a Scottish politician for Scotland, rather than a product of the Westminster machine of which he has been part of since 1997.

It’s not an impossible task – but the polls show that it will require him taking a stand against the UK wide Labour Party. He will need to show Scottish voters that the party north of the border is able to engage in independent thought and take different policy decisions to those of Miliband et al.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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7 Responses to “The challenges facing Jim Murphy are immense”

  1. David Lindsay

    I am not surprised, but I still feel it worth noting, that Scottish Labour is now clearly to the right of the party at large. Jim Murphy has declared the Scottish Labour Party independent.

    Independent, to promote the privatising and pro-austerity programme on which he openly and comprehensively defeated a candidate of, in United Kingdom terms, the Labour mainstream and a candidate of the Labour Left.

    And independent, to promote his hardline neoconservative foreign policy views. Expect that to be a considerable nuisance in the next few years. Indeed, quite conceivably for very many years to come.

    Oh, well. Let the Scottish Labour Party fund itself independently, then. The advocates of Murphy’s domestic and foreign policies have the deepest of pockets. Just so long as everyone knows who they are.

    Rumours abound that Scottish Labour is down to about 5,000 members in good standing, mostly hacks looking for seats. And of Conservatives jumping ship to Scottish Labour, with quite a few signed up over the past month in order to vote for the very, very, very right-wing Jim Murphy, a stalwart of the Henry Jackson Society.

    Still, let them vote SNP. That is still a vote for a Labour Government at Westminster. The SNP has said that it could never work with “the Tories”, so that is that.

  2. swat

    Lets fact it Jim is NOLOt going to turn Scots Labour aroud in one year; he’s got to be in it for the long term It’ll take at least 5 years before Scots Labour make any significant gains and the populace tire of the SNP. Who knows, Scotland may well have won its independence by then.
    Its the SNP the natural ruling Party of Scotland that are the conservative Party; and if Labour are to succeed they have to be to the left of the SNP.

  3. David Lindsay

    His parents’ move to South Africa in 1979 can only have been a political act. A lot of people were made redundant and did not move to the apartheid state.

    Specifically, they wound up in the Western Cape, and they seem to have had something to do with Robben Island while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there. In any event, it is worth looking into exactly what they were doing under P W Botha.

    It is also worth looking into exactly what their son was doing under P W Botha. He was there between the ages of 12 and 18.

    Culturally speaking, he is more than anything a 1980s white South African, and one raised in a home that had been set up specifically in order to avail itself of the opportunities presented by that order.

    The age of conscription into the South African Defence Force was 16, or when you left school, whichever happened later.

    Murphy’s subsequent nine years at university without ever taking a degree indicate that he has never been much of an academic shining light. He turned 16 in 1983.

    Had the apartheid regime still existed in 1994 (when it was not long gone), then some sort of rapprochement with it would have been integral to Tony Blair’s “modernisation” project.

    If there was one thing on which Old Labour was united, then it was opposition to apartheid. But the Thatcherite press expressed a very different view. Guess which line Blair would have taken.

    Moreover, from September 2001 onwards, apartheid South Africa would have met every criterion, and surpassed most or all of them, for classification as a key “partner” in “The War Against Terror”, which my erstwhile housemate who is now the Labour Party’s Head of Research used in those days to say ought to be known by its acronym.

    And now, look who is Blairism’s de facto Leader on these shores, at least pending the extradition of David Miliband to answer torture-related charges.

  4. AlanGiles

    Nice for old Blairites to know that there is life after death – if you can call it living.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    No surprise you blame children for their parent’s actions.

  6. Guest

    Rot. The SNP would be quite happy to, as long as things went their way their side of the border.

    And I see, you’re saying Jim’s like you. My my. As you argue for ending the Union, already.

  7. Seymour

    I wonder if Mr Murphy really thinks he can repair the SLP in such a short time. When SLP suffer losses at the next GE he’ll get the blame.

    Has he been allowed to win? A patsy to take the blame followed by a new leader back by the left of the party.

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