No sooner does Polly mess it up, than another M25 Media Luvvie makes the same mistake. Poor Jim Naughtie really is sounding like All Our Yesterdays and just too doddery to keep up. He’ll never retire because he believes the nation needs him, so management should step in to avoid subjecting us to more care home radio.
He was interviewing Labour’s Branch Manager on Radio 4 and couldn’t cut through the Murphy bluster while asking why Labour were behind. Murphy just drops into the Denial Zone and witters on about the polls turning his way, winning majorities and, bizarrely (for a democrat) moaning about the Nats ‘getting in Labour’s way’! I think that’s the old Labour Right to Rule mentality popping up again…
Labour are struggling because the message isn’t getting through to a phalanx of voters who’ve heard it all before – and watched it all disappear in power. Labour have been successful so long as working class Scots thought there was no alternative and for decades there was no way they’d vote SNP for Westminster. So, as in England, they were trapped with a single option and consoled themselves with the myth that this was a family tradition or it was rooted in the shipyards etc and gamely cast their vote for GMB official Cooncillor McPhail who was nothing more than a tea boy for the leadership and couldn’t deliver a letter, let alone a policy.
This zombie politics finally burst into the open when for two and a half years the anti-Tory Labour Party hugged, high-fived and hustled with…the Tories. The Undead were unleashed and all Labour can do is rush inside and barricade the doors while hideous opinion polls loom in the window. If you live a grim life that never gets any better but you believe your representatives are doing their damndest to help you, you put up with the games they play because that’s how it works. But when they throw aside the flags of struggle to march shoulder to shoulder with the same people that keep you in your place, the awakening can be terrible to behold.
Labour’s message is lost in the bedlam of groaning as they insist yet again they are (variously) the party of Scotland, of the working class, of hard working families, of social progress. The reply is: No. You’re party that sold us out…
Naughtie had just been to Ferguslie Park so you’d think he’d have brought that intellect to bear and drilled down to find the real motivation of poorer Scots, if only to educate the English audience that is his master. But I don’t think he’s really interested in that kind of empathetic journalism. His interview showed that he’s interested only in the Westminster chessboard and who can manoeuvre whom.
I think the politicians have a legitimate complaint here because the make-up of parliament is decided after the vote and before the vote we’re entitled to hear what the party offers are. Either the media should have agreed to stick to policy issues for the first week or so, or, more realistically, broadcasters should have asked journalists to start every interview with policy-based questions and turn to coalition and similar deals afterwards. We need to hear the politicians exposed on policy questions to make it a proper election and so far that’s not really happening. (It would help if they wouldn’t spin their opponents’ weaknesses so much).
The Murphy line is that the polls are merely reflecting the indyref – an odd assessment since No won that vote yet the current polls put the SNP way ahead – and, he says, when folk concentrate on the election, they will want a Labour government not a Tory one. Well, some will no doubt, but it sounds like a desperate plea six months from September with a rock solid pattern in the polls. And how motivated would you be by a message that says: Vote for me – I’m no’ as bad as him?
This dismal trope has two flaws. First, it strikes exactly the same threatening tone as Better Together contrived in the indyref – one that says: If you don’t back me, something terrible will happen to you… This is not a surprise with the Better Together leadership sitting in Murphy’s backroom, but it is shocking to think they’ve learned nothing. Second, Scots are over Westminster, sick and scunnered by its hideous hypocrisy and wasteful incompetence and, if they do care who gets to bow and scrape before the Monarch first and to grin outside Number 10, it’s not enough to miss the chance of pulling down their goalposts and digging up the turf. This is a demonstration against failure, an act of protest against duplicity and a statement that says: We are Scotland – and don’t you forget it.
And I’m afraid there is for me another negative about Labour…and it’s Murphy himself. Am I biased? Guilty, of course. But I can be disturbed by a convincing case against me and am not immune to clever argument. But Murphy is a hard listen because to my ear he is sinister as if deliberately speaking quietly to underline his menace. Instead of conviction, he carries threat and that sense will only increase as we near the denouement.
Were this a cartoon strip, I’d have him as Razor Jim, gum-chewing, scar-faced and whispering: You owe your allegiance to my gang…know what I mean?by