Is That The Time?

Season’s greetings and good wishes to all – Yes, Don’t Know and No’s (but I’ll never forgive you).

I suppose we’re meant to be despondent as the year of opportunity passes and leaves us where we started…as a region of a country where all the major decisions affecting our lives are made by people for whom we are not a priority.

But I just can’t do it. My default mode is confidence and optimism, my only regret is that we didn’t leap free cleanly and decisively. But I am now part of something bigger, something creative which is weaving a serpentine pattern on our democracy and subtly rearranging it into shapes we didn’t previously imagine and leaving us uncertain of the final picture.

It’s clear that we won’t stay the same, that the earth tremors continue as aftershock, unpredictable and disconcerting. For example, I find it hard to believe the Scotland opinion polling giving over 40 per cent to the SNP will remain firm in a British election campaign. I just can’t. All my life experience has been that Labour commands an unshakable influence over generations of working class Scots many of whom voted out of peer-imposed obligation rather than support for policy. Sometimes it seemed to be a force of nature that drove staring-eyed followers to the polling station – 2010 when Cameron (sort of) won in England, the SNP were the Holyrood administration and yet in Scotland Labour ended up with exactly the same seats from 2005 (41).

And yet…even Professor Curtice is endorsing the numbers to the extent that they may be disguising an unusual blip which shows disillusion with Labour higher and deeper in strongly Labour areas which (follow me) means that the uniform swing may actually work against Labour holding seats, whereas normally it doesn’t allow for the individual character in some constituencies. If this holds true, then there is nothing to stop the dam bursting and places where even the local opposition are perennially sure of defeat will change hands. What then?

Here’s another. I have conflicting views of Labour’s chances across the UK because 1) when the heat is on, most voters follow the taste principle and forget all about policy, party and the past and simply have a sniff and a wee sip of the leader’s elixir. Is he fit for it? Will he do? And I am convinced Ed won’t do – in fact neither Ed will do.

2) I’m begining to think the Tories are now so extreme that even some of their own support might desert them. They have flipped from the green and consensual to the greedy and censorious. They are truly toxic again and have taken the bash-the-poor policy too far for what the Telegraph would call decent British people. How do these two ideas play against each other in the polling booth?

I think whatever shape Westminster government takes, there will be much talk of separatism and division – caused by infuriated English opinion with anti-Scottish and anti-European undercurrents. We will find out next year just who the real separatists are. Throughout the indyref any mention of England or English people was met with demands to know: Why do you hate the English? And You’re Anglophobic! Well, get ready for a torrent of nakedly anti-Scottish sentiment to make a ScotNat blush.

I believe we can finally wave farewell to the Lib Dems in 2015 – at least as any credible force because if those that survive enter an agreement with the Tories again (especially since they are now denouncing their Tory partners as extremists). I fear it will bring forth a new working class militancy which could rupture Labour and may well instead feed UKIP in the absence of any political home, while in Scotland feeding more fodder to the SNP beast.

Just how an SNP deal with Labour as biggest party would operate to their advantage is tricky because you become closely identified with the governing party and their worst policies and what may seem logical at the start can quickly become a liability. When votes of confidence arise you can be propping up not just a government but some pretty odious policies too. Mind you, it would keep Jim Murphy in a key role, if he stands again for Westminster and if he wins. He would be a key go-between for Edinburgh and London, a role he would relish as it keeps him in the public eye.

Since it is now five days ago I should say I tweeted about Murphy during the George Square tragedy because I found my hackles rising as I read he was being interviewed across the media about an accident he wasn’t involved in. He was on television and in newspaper online pages and appearing on Twitter so much I couldn’t get past his name to the story (or so it seemed). I don’t care what party he is, there is a gift in owing when politics is irrelevant and counter productive and in knowing what you’re role is and what it isn’t.

As far as I could see he was a minimum of 100 metres away and probably twice or three times that in a different street with no view. When he tweeted about it happening it was a full hour afterwards, leaving the question: What was the purpose of the tweet? The first thing it does of course is alert the media to his proximity. (This may not have been his intention which was to alert members of the public and express his concern). But it would be naïve of him not to anticipate a media reaction. What then should have been his response? Should he have agreed to interviews or should he have demurred on the grounds he wasn’t present, wasn’t in government, didn’t represent the area and had no locus?

Who has locus? Well, Gordon Matheson for sure as council leader, the transport or local government minister certainly, either FM or deputy FM or the local MSP/MP…all could reasonably have something meaningful to say.

The politicians who got this right in my view were Willie Bain who had walked through the square 15 minutes earlier and who gave a grave and respectful interview but didn’t place himself in the story as such, and Ruth Davidson who was quick to tweet from, I think Argyle Street, commending the emergency services and expressing sorrow but not heading to the area to get in the way.

I went on to the Herald site and the first story said roughly: Jim Murphy was carrying a load of Christmas presents in Buchanan Street when…(the crash happened). I found that unbelievable given the real story. This type of irrelevant detail is for a retrospective piece recalling what happened, not within hours of a mass tragedy. But it speaks to the symbiotic relationship Murphy enjoys with the media, as if he has a media identity larger than an MP. It is almost as if he has his own persona that transcends relevance and indeed so it proved with Sky News who billed him as the First Minister.

I don’t doubt for a moment the genuine human concern that a decent man like Murphy feels in this case, but there is a tendency for some to imagine themselves at the heart of public life irrespective of the occasion and to think that because reporters ask them, they must therefore seek out the microphone. This is a mistake as Alex Salmond will aver. Was it not the Unionists like Murphy who berated him for camera chasing? In his desire to dominate the airwaves, Jim Murphy must be careful not to outstay his welcome. No doubt in a day or two we will also discover what his favourite book of the year was or his recipe for brownies as the Hogmanay papers scrape the barrel.

The public quickly tires of the perennial publicity seeker. Still, a prosperous (but not too successful) New Year to him and to all of you. I thought 2014 was to be our year but it turns out it may be 2015 instead.

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34 thoughts on “Is That The Time?

  1. Derek, on what do you build your contention that Jim Murphy is a “decent man” when the evidence is against this?

  2. I am sorry Derek but I tend to think Jim Murphy is too caught up in himself to be a really decent man

  3. wow!!! a decent man,wouldnt lie like this guy,a decent man would tell the truth,a decent man wouldnt back weapons of mass destruction,a decent man wouldnt back austerity for the poor (when it was tories and bankers),a decent man wouldnt back ttip.I could go on (forever),I am lost for words,this is a publicity seeking career politician getting £200,000 in expenses

  4. Derek

    I’m curious to know in what sense you think 2015 might be our year instead of 2014. The best we can hope for in 2015 is that the SNP trounce Labour in Scotland and play a role in UK government – either in formal coalition (unlikely I think) or in an informal understanding. But this is not comparable to what might have been in 2014. Even in 2016, the best we can achieve is more of the same – i.e. an SNP majority at Holyrood and some flavour of unionist government in Westminster. Or am I misunderstanding you?

  5. Jim Murphy looking to corner some publicity isn’t important. Frankly who gives a monkey’s about Jim Murphy period in this tragedy. My thoughts are for those who lost family. The right folk spoke up when necessary and were seen to and that should be good enough. The rest should be condolences and true heartfelt sympathy.

    As for where we stand politically at this time? No I don’t believe for a second that 54 seats out of 59 will be SNP in May, however accurate those polls and however much I wish it, pragmatism and realism would still produce an exceptional result with twenty plus seats. THAT would still be not just a creditable achievement, but an exceptional one. It would also still have the desired effect of having a pro Scotland Westminster contingent capable of controlling the balance of power in the commons.

    They know it, we know it and they’re shaking in their boots at the concessions they would have to give to retain control. If say those twenty plus SNP MPs manage to deliver some concessions for the Scottish electorate, THEN the damn will completely burst. Labour’s last vestiges, their corruption, sense of entitlement, apathy, and cynical ideological compromise will be washed away in the flood. Their tribalism, hypocrisy and blame/scapegoat mentality will find no traction in our politics.

    But first, we need to get those twenty or more SNP MPs elected. So here’s to a busy, bright and prosperous new years for Scottish politics.

    Out with the old and in with the new. 🙂

  6. If Jim Murphy every really did qualify at Uni, assuming he could also pass his his professional qualfications before retiral, he would make a natural ambulance chaser.

    • Sorry Derek, but Murphy as a politician is as far away as you can get for being a decent guy. Bugger (the Panda) calls it right, Murphy is an ambulance chaser. He actually reminds me of Damien from Drop the Dead Donkey… 😀 😀

      • Bugger (the Panda)

        Now there is a blast from the past, Damian.

        This man elbows his way to the from of of anything where his mug can be seen and reproduced in the tame Scottish media.

        A John Balliol (Toom Tabard) of the modern day.

        • Bugger (the Panda)

          A professioanal political ligger

          • Methinks he learned this trait from his former master Tony Blair who was always looking to see which way the crowd was going and running ahead shouting follow me. Toom Tabards are excellent names for both of them. John Balliol was a gentleman beside this load of rubbish.

  7. I don’t wish him a prosperous New Year, as that would leave the rest of us poorer. He has done well enough out of Westminster expenses so far.

  8. I’m amazed to read that Sky introduced Murphy as the First Minister. That speaks volumes about the standard of journalism in the MSM and the complete ignorance about Scotland. We might as well be Albania for all they know. Imagine Ed Miliband being introduced as the Prime Minister!
    Roll on GE 15.

  9. Murphy has already outstayed his welcome.

  10. An SNP landslide in 2015 is not impossible. It’s down to us to get the message across and to counter the lies in traditional media and to excavate entrenched perceptions with our own activism. There is still rabid hatred of the SNP no matter who the leader is, and that’s something that can only be tackled with fair and balanced media. With the new additions to national sources like the National, or iScot, or the Scottish Independent, and the emerging broadcast voices that counter the drone of the BBC we now have a wider platform – let’s use them. If we don’t support the new media we can’t then complain that we are drowned out by unionist dogma.

    Yes, let’s be realistic and accept the challenges and realities, but let’s not allow tiredness and disillusionment to cloud the possibilities. It’s a long hard road but the end is in sight after over 300 years. Keep looking ahead and don’t give in.

  11. The last headline I want to see 2015 is

    The comeback Kid

    Jim Murphy

  12. Were the SNP in coalition with Callaghan in October 1974 when they held 11 seats?

    They held the balance of power, but I don’t know if it was a formal coalition as such?

    Fat lot of good it did us anyhow. I always thought it was a lost opportunity and that we asked for too little. Too cautious. Too conservative with a small ‘c’.

    • From March 1974 until April 1979, the SNP consistently supported the Labour Government’s slim majority over the Tories.
      However, it was Labour MPs who put the nail in the Labour coffin.
      Prime Minister Callaghan noted in his book ‘Time and Chance’
      “ In his (i.e. Michael Cox, Labour’s Chief Whip) view, the difficulty within the (Labour) Party, was much greater than any from the Scottish National Party, and the Whip’s judgement was that the government could not rely on the votes of Labour members from the north if we moved to reject the Repeal Order……… we could lose the vote.”
      The SNP MPs called Labour’s bluff, when they refused to stand up to their own MPs who were hell bent on dumping the Scottish assembly.

  13. Jim Murphy has one goal. Silence the SNP .

    If he succeeds , i fear for this country. This man symbolises everything we fought against in the YES campaign. A very dangerous man. Scotland has many like him .

    We must do everything we can to keep that guy out of Scotland. A willing glove puppet for the WM regime. He cares nothing for this country. Only himself.

    We readers know what your like Derek. Often the voice of reason. But wishing JM anything but the plague will only stir up bad feeling from your loyal readers. This man is a rat and will do anything, ANYTHING, to further his career and the status quo of WM and Scotland can be damned .

    Funnily enough his relationship with the ” Unionist” media is solid. The same media that lied to Scots and you where sympathetic to the journo’s who peddled out the lies 24/7 during the ref.

    I believe you try to find middle ground. life is all about compromise but JM is the type you never compromise with . He will dip your pockets while smiling and shaking your hand.

    He is the Leader of our enemy. I don’t know the man enough to hate him but i do not like him . A propaganda tool .

    • We can thank the Media, all of them for silencing the YES campaign in the run up to the referendum. They did their level best to ensure that voices were hardly heard and if they were there was always an element of doubt as to what was being said, but not for the unionists.
      Jim Murphy will have his day in the media, it has started now, how we counteract it, I have no idea.

  14. As far as Murphy goes,to quote his fellow Westminsterphile in the British Labour party “who cares”.
    I would like to think that after May,Scots will have voted for politicians that are in Westminster to represent Scottish interests and not a party machine (SNP candidate selection committees beware!) mired in narrow xenophobic English politics.
    Let’s hope 2015 is much better thatn 2014.
    Thanks Derek and good luck for the coming year.

  15. Let’s all remember that Jim(‘ll fix it) Murphy miraculously appeared outside the Clutha Bar after that tragedy. He just happened to be passing by at the time. Aye right.

    • Bugger (the Panda)

      Ambulance Chaser?

      • Looks like it, BtP.
        Someone who spends 9 years using funds which could have subsidised dedicated students – and even after that length of time doesn’t manage to secure qualifications of any description – can hardly be described as a suitable role model. We certainly don’t want our young people following his selfish example. The Labour Party members are in a sorry state when they can’t find a way to clear him from their path.

      • So right.

  16. Katrine Paterson

    Jim Murphy, is toxic. But it’s not only the big shots in the labour party who are only interested in any opportunity to grab publicity.
    Recently all of the local West Fife labour councillors, the labour MSP and labour MP, turned up at a 75th anniversary event to commemorate the pit disaster that claimed 35 lives. The two councillors had hijacked the arrangements and invited their party members along. Photo shots are everything to them.
    It only took a couple of weeks before a report of their attendance, and a photo of the four, beside the memorial wreathes, appeared in the MSP’s publicity for the May election.
    These people are only interested in promoting themselves. They make me sick!
    They are not the sort of people I could ever vote for.

  17. “Well, get ready for a torrent of nakedly anti-Scottish sentiment to make a ScotNat blush. – it’s started already, two positively racist articles in the Torygraph today.

    • So I believe Deedee, if we had used such language we would be getting it in the neck right now. Nothing in the Torygraph surprises me, they are full of disgusting people who I gave up on a long time ago.
      I would say that all parties have 5th columnists and I expect we have them in the SNP so be very careful before believing everything you read. I think that the Establishment has them everywhere, and I fear that they may be quite bedded in where they are.

      • Look on the bright side. Scottophobia in the English press is the one button that will wake up the Nawbags and make them reconsider their position. Yes could soon be on 60%+. My estimation of a good number of Nawbags, the quiet, shy, ones, is that they voted No simply on the precautionary principle. Not so much ‘I’m all right Jack’. More ‘Better the devil you know’. But they are as Scottish as anybody else. And once the naked self-interest of English politicians is revealed they will quickly come round and realise the Union is finished and BT sold them out.

  18. I’ll get my feelings about Murphy out of the way. I’ve always felt very personal disgust of Murphy. But I knew it was personal and his party loyalist might have given him a more charitable valuation. Now I despise him as a public shame. The Labour Party has tied itself to this creature.

    Labour’s vote in Scotland has had a link to that of the SNP. Vote SNP at Holyrood Labour at Westminster. That link was smash in the referendum. The polls just show no distinction between Edinburgh and London with voters. In people’s minds they are transferring significant meaning from Westminster to Holyrood. The UK government is daily becoming openly the English government it has always been with Scotland a despised region of Greater England. It is a process of mental disengagement from considering the UK state in anyway a respresentation of Scotland. Labour has for 40 years sat in that fringe between British and Scottish. Lets call it the long British Imperial twilight. The British sun is setting on Labour and there is nothing they can do to halt it anymore than the Conservative & Unionist can or their predesseors the Unionst Party of 1965. The SNP probably can’t speed the process just go along with it.

    Authoritas, gravitas words that Romans used to describe attributes leaders required to have power freely given by the population. It’s what the Police try to represent. With sucess since they do so without guns. The USA through power and cultural influence. To what extent can the English dominated UK parliament claim that it still retains these over Scotland?

  19. Whilst we all step forward and claim”I’m Sparticus” , Jim Murphy takes two steps forward and claims “I’m Walter Mitty”

  20. What the SLAB have done is change the manager o the team. That was forced on them by Calamity Johann throwing a wobbler, then lobbing a grenade over her shoulder on her way oot.

    Big Jum Murphy will say anything and promise anything to get the players back on side. The problem for Jum is that the dressing room has been lost. The divisions in the SLAB are not gonna be healed by some pretend unity.

    As he says he’s big enough and ugly enough to lead the SLAB team and he winna be taking orders from London. But he will, as the Labour policy will be decided there and Jumbo will have to dae what he’s telt no matter how he spins it.

    If you want to see how this all pans oot for SLAB….keep up with the Rangers story. The parallels are scarily similar.

    Just waiting now for Ally McCoist to lob a grenade once his garden leave is over.

    • Love the comparison.
      Another even better one is my beloved Harness Racing. A sport that is massively popular in US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and so many European countries, yet hear in the UK the vast majority don’t even know it exists.
      There’s only two sports that haven’t been covered on Sky Sports apparantly – croquet and British Harness Racing.
      WHY.. Because the ruling body would rather spend all licence holder’s funds strutting around the world on huge expenses determined to play a part at the top table yet encountering only derision. All this at the expense of looking after and promoting the interests of the decent, hard working, salt of the earth people who they should be representing.
      It makes me so mad because the sport in this country is so exciting and spectator friendly.
      But hey, why spend money on promoting the sport when you can spend it on really important things like strutting around the world stage like peacocks.

  21. How does a decent man go along with what is now know to be deliberate lies that led the UK to war in Iraq and the death of hundreds of thousands of iraqis, the disruption of the their society and the rise of new threats to them.
    the answer is he doesn’t, as Robin Cook showed when he resigned.

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