Shut Up and Listen

Freedom of speech, eh? You can say what you like – it’s a human right and nobody should try to stop you. But hold on. Supposing you’re standing on a busy street with a public address sound system and shouting about how you oppose somebody else’s ideas…supposing somebody who disagrees with you tries to shout over your sound system and you demand they stop because they’re denying your right to free speech…aren’t you denying them the right of reply and therefore of free speech?


Or are we really saying that if you’ve organised a sound system and tipped off the media and are stage-managing a PR stunt for the cameras, you should be allowed to get on with it and all the other people should restrict their right to free speech so can appear on the evening telly news?

I passed the Murphy event – laughably called a ‘rally’ by some media – just before it started at St Enoch and it was everything we’ve come to expect from the robotic political/media coalition…the party red coats (turning up in the same hired coach, it seems), a scattering of hacks and the Murphy briefers making sure the journos are on message. Seeing the cameras, a handful of puzzled locals stopped to stare but there is no crowd, no spontaneous reaction, just a street backdrop which will appear on camera as if something really was ‘happening’. The media conspire in this charade.

The contrast with the mass events of the SNP is so embarrassing that Labour really should give it up. It’s like their evocation of Donald Dewar, John Smith or, so help me, Keir Hardie which only serves to show how talentless and unprincipled the modern leadership is.

I don’t mind anybody going on the street and I don’t mind them making a noise (the buskers already do my head in) but what I can’t stand is their cod indignation when somebody answers back. Who the hell do they think they are? If somebody wants to chant to drown you out, isn’t that the risk you take – it’s the battle of the streets after all. Murphy is, in theory, inviting everyone in a public place to engage with him but, in reality, when they do, he can’t take it. He either screams at them, ignores their question or runs away. This isn’t engagement, it’s parody. He reverts to student politics by yelling and – as we saw in every televised hustings – speaking over and never, never listening. The public’s job is to listen to him. He is a bully.

Jim’s style is to badger and confront and that’s exactly what he got in return at St Enoch – a man (looked like Sean Clerkin to me) competing with his own loud hailer and being in turn pushed by what appeared to be Labour minders. When you read the media portrayal and quotes from Eddie Izzard (you don’t suit red, love) about violence, you have to pinch yourself at what’s become of street politics. As Alex Thompson of Channel Four tweeted: Anybody saying that was a violent protest needs to get out more and see what violence looks like.


And if there’s any evidence that Clerkin or his pals are somehow controlled by Nicola Sturgeon, I’ll eat my hat. When, oh when, can we get rid of this manipulative clown Murphy and find a Labour leader who connects with people and joins debate with honesty and wit? There are so many policy areas to be confronted and a leftist agenda to be pursued but he has no credibility with the public on either front. His am dram performance on the last debate summed him up. When Sturgeon said she would vote against a Labour budget if it added to austerity, he did a pantomime face. ‘Ooooh. The cat’s out of the bag. They’ll vote against Labour’, he howled in mock outrage. Of course, they will, if it means more austerity. But he refined it to exclude the key caveat – and so did some of the media. Isn’t it time there was a professional qualification for journalists? Wonder how many would be in work?

(I see the excuses for Murphy’s dismal campaigning efforts are already in hand. Professor David Torrance was virtually exonerating Murphy, McDougall and McTernan in the Herald -which ran an ‘SNP Will Vote Against Labour’ headline – on the grounds that the decline was already well under way before they took over. Indeed it was. And who was responsible for it? Exactly the same cadre of Blairite insiders who triangulated the party to death, backed the purse-crushing PFI schemes, privatisation, foreign wars, sucked up to the finance sector and refused to restore workers rights – Murphy, McDougall and McTernan.

They are the epitome of Labour’s failure and are now making a mockery of Labour principles as they wheedle and whine about the SNP while adopting their policies. Today’s Labour panto in Argyle Street was about students – about whom there are genuine issues under an SNP government – and one placard said: No tuition fees. Yet Murphy himself voted for fees in England. Which is it? Fees – good or fees bad? Good in Scotland, bad in England? Or is the answer simple: Jim will say whatever he has to…depends who’s paying the piper.)

By the way. Better Together Labour spinners are suggesting the SNP or the government are tipping off the protestors about Jim’s ‘rallies’. How would they know about them? And given the inevitable publicity, how likely do you think that is? I think it’s as likely as Sturgeon demanding a second referendum. Much more likely is somebody  inside the Labour campaign is making it known either because they are disaffected or because they are luring the shouters into a trap. Thank god it will be over soon.



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55 thoughts on “Shut Up and Listen

  1. Great article as usual.

    There will be a need for a credible opposition in the years to come in Scotland whether thats in a devo-something Scottish Parliament or preferably, an independant Scotland.

    From what exists of the labour party in Scotland you just can’t see where that’s coming from. The obvious heir apparent Kezia Dugdale, no harm to her, just doesn’t cut it… and the bunfight which is sure to follow Thursdays results amongst the current crop of MPs will be unseemly to say the least…

    I cannot see from where within Scottish labours ranks a new force might emerge from their ashes.

    Wullie Runnie (spelling intended) is a joke and whilst Ruth Davidson has for the most part impressed as the only credible politician from the opposition, toryism as a potential force in Scotland whether independant or not is dead.

    So whilst I look forward to the demise of so called Scottish Labour I do worry about where a credible alternative to the SNP might come from and at least one will be needed. I do respect Patrick Harvie but dont think Green Politics will ever be mainstream.

    • James McEwan

      The truth as always will out I have seen Sean Clerkin in action before he fights I believe for his Socialist values of which Labour are now deficient and see,s Murphy and his ilk for what they are lying scheming career Politicians

  2. Spot on, as usual. Well judged opinion piece. Thank you.

  3. But how can a reporter with any experience describe this farce as “absolute chaos on the streets of Glasgow”? Is James Cook really such an ingénue?

  4. To be quite honest I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of this agent provocateur/false flag events. I loathe Murphy for the toxicity his lying and bullying are bringing to Scottish politics. It’s not just his right-wing views, it’s his methods.

    At least Alex Thomson could comment (in astonishment) of the genuine enthusiasm of the Sturgeon rally and Hope not Fear rally the other week and how the press just weren’t covering it. But the press covers this. Hope Alex is getting the drift by now.

    • jacquescoleman

      Thomson was just as guilty as Cook at the start of the nonsense this A.M. Both trying to spin it as a ‘riot’.

  5. Good article about shocking journalism. People in Scotland don’t believe the fear stories any more. I think these are staged for the benefit of Labour in England about the ‘nasty nats’ coming to take over their country. However there will probably still be some major happening in the next few days, there fundily mundily has to be 🙂

    • jacquescoleman

      Some local rag in England had a story published earlier today about it. See Wings piece on the matter.

    • Joe McTavish

      I still think a lot of this propaganda is aimed at a foreign – particularly American – audience. Yes, it’s aimed at the English to enlist public opposition to Scottish nationalism, but it’ll also be used in diplomacy to point a finger and say “nasty lot, that”. Scottish readers will find the truth for themselves, but who in an overseas readership will get beyond the mainstream headlines?

  6. Yet again SLAB are acting like circus clowns. McTernan practically libelled Campbell Gunn on Twitter, Blair McDougall is getting the run around from Daft Limmy, some former adviser to Helen Liddell has hidden her Twitter account (Rhoda Macdonald), and once again Murphy plays the MSM like a fool.

    I have no idea what James Cook was playing at, saying there was chaos in Glasgow today? I hope he never ventures into Compton when he moves to LA for his own sake. I genuinely do not know who is acting worse, the MSM or SLAB? Scottish Labour need to be rid of these jokers.

    • I meant to add that Rhoda Macdonald tried to smear Campbell Gunn as well, and that is why she has hidden her Twitter account.

    • He didn’t practically libel Campbell Gunn, he actually libeled him. I hope Mr Gunn is reaching for his lawyer. Murphy is fundilymundily corrupt – an expense-guzzling, self-serving, fraud who thinks that scaring pensioners by lying to them is OK.

  7. alex livingstone

    Even if Mr Murphy does hang on in Eastwood,and Labour is routed in the rest of Scotland,the Labour party will soon remove him from his post

  8. oor man McTernan has previous…

    This happened when John McTernan was spin doctor for Julian Gilliard in Australia!!
    Anyone see a pattern????

  9. “The media conspire…”
    And that is the point in a nutshell.
    The whole Labour campaign in Scotland is a conspiracy, with the conspirators being Labour and their fellow Tory friends, the Conservative Party, the LibDems, the BBC and with the exception of the National, all the Newspapers.
    Putin must look on with jealousy and admiration.
    The UK isn’t a fully functioning democracy.
    We live in a controlled Right Wing Dictatorship.
    No Dictator in the sense of a strong man like Putin in power but a collective of vested interests.
    Murphy is a well rewarded puppet, willing to do what is necessary for the cash.
    His bosses will be proud and probably very scared that this attempted manipulative charade won’t work.
    We need to invent another term to describe Murphy and co, to better understand and highlight the sheer harm that they are doing to democracy.

    • I have no love for Jim Murphy, but I was particularly taken with the snake-ish way he shouted over the Red Tories Out! chant with Let’s get the Tories out! subverting their message to his own. Denial of freedom of speech? Tick tock Jim.

  10. jacquescoleman

    The Clerkin guy has admitted on Twitter that it was a LAB Rat in E Renfrewshire who warned him.

    • And they played him like a cheap fiddle! Agree with Derek that Eddie (who I used to like) does not suit red – too strident a colour for his peely wally look, not helped by the scarf which looked like the Butcher’s Apron, around his neck. I’m pretty sure Eddies manicure was completely intact after this “violent” encounter, plenty of stills of him and Fundilmundily, who is grinning like a hyena at having his little sordid plan come to fruition.

    • And Duncan Hothersall tweeted about Clerkin going to the “rally” long before it started – where would he get such information, unless someone in SLab tipped Clerkin off?

  11. According to the scuttlebutt doing the rounds on twitter, Clerkin appears to have been told by someone in Murphy’s own branch party office. I also saw a tweet from the ever present Mr Hothersall with a date stamp of 11:55am that confirmed that Scottish labour was already aware that Clerkin was going to appear. So another of Murphy’s pointless soapbox rants covered by an unusually large group of press were in place for the shout off between Murphy and clerkin. Dutifully covered by the BBC which hysterically called it chaos on the streets of Glasgow.

    Its precisely this sort of tactic that saw Scottish labour lose so much support. So at this stage you have to wonder what the point was. He is not going to win back votes with this. So its clearly an attempt to shore up his own vote? What ultimately is the price for Murphy in the long run. A man who is increasingly seen as a bully whose mouth is writing cheques his party cannot cash and a UK media that increasingly looks either unbelievably stupid or corrupt.

    I cannot wait for this to be over. The antics of Scottish labour in this election have sickened me to my core. Not even during the reign of Thatcher did the tories ever act up like this. They could act like spoiled little brats and say hurtful things. But Scottish labour? They’re a party of asshats.

    • David – I feel the way you do – absolutely sickened that a party I supported for 40 years has sunk to the depths it has. Jim Murphy is an outstanding disgrace to himself, his party and to Scotland. I wish he’d go back south where I’m sure he feels more comfortable in the Cesspit by the Thames!

    • Clerkin is part of Glasgow needy another scam by the way he has pretended to chase labour around glasgow for months but its a sham they are hand and glove all the way .look at the vids from the labour dinner . listen to the name they booked the room under and tell me no one clicked keir hardy for god sake. so labour security did no checks did they forget brighton . check out glasgow needy a group that takes food given for all glasgow but where does it go to .with foodbanks here closing due to lack of support it seems the food goes no where and its growing in peoples minds that clerkin and labour have staged managed this as well to create more poverty to gain votes … this is just my opinion but if you follow the trail ie being able to collect in the square without permission from GGC yet GGC saying they need but nothing they can do but other groups moved on by police for doing the same thing but wait GGC is labour controlled . clerkin and his GN idiots crashing others rallies yet nothing done about it . he even tried to crash a confrence and did many dives to the ground then claiming assault yet nothing reported these are all on vid and put up online . labour and clarkin are one in the same end off

  12. For your viewing pleasure. Part 1 of today’s festivities in full technicolour

  13. Anne Galloway

    James Cook should now be ashamed of himself. I see the ‘chaos on the Glasgow street’ made the UK news. Ridiculous. I’ve watched the video clips from Wings over Scotland there was hardly anybody there to listen to Murphy apart form his usual supporters and even then he can’t drum up the numbers Nicola can – Greenock rally today. Sure there was a protest from a couple of people, but they were talking sense – what were Labour going to do about the food banks given they were continuing with austerity. Toes and fingers crossed Murphy loses his East Renfrew seat.

  14. Manipulation, hyperbole, stage management and faux indignation.

    Its what they do.

    Spookily the press have successfully managed to ignore any amount of abuse suffered by YES supporters during the referendum and SNP support since. What else is new? Labour first look to instigate a situation then milk any protest against their stage managed displays for all they are worth. Murphy has clearly been looking to replicate his egg in the sun moment.

    Best response? Turn your back on them walk away and head for that polling station on May 7. Take them and their foul practices out of Scottish politics permanently by voting them off the streets.

  15. I take some comfort for the fact that Murphy, MacTernan, so-called Scottish Labour and the unionist media in Scotland have sunk so low and are reduced to such desperate ploys. It will backfire on them because those people who calmly walked passed this pantomime will spread the word about what really happened. Likewise many will just check out the usual websites to see the truth about this supposed riot. True supporters of the Labour party must be scarlet with shame.

  16. Earlier today I was having a conversation with a friend who was a NO voter in the referendum. When I commented on this latest Murphy stunt and how he was simulating faux outrage via the media at being out-shouted by a couple of hecklers. I expected my Labour leaning friend to disagree with me and back up Murphy. To my surprise he instead remarked that this kind of robust street politics used to called “the hustings!” You know what, he’s right!

    I recalled an incident from when Harold Wilson was addressing a large crowd somewhere in England during a past election campaign. A heckler kept shouting “Rubbish!” to interrupt Wilson’s speech. Instead of getting annoyed or even giving up and running away, Wilson paused and called to the man, “I’ll address your particular interest in a moment, sir!” The crowd broke into laughter and applause. The heckler gave up.

  17. cariewolverton

    Hey Izzy come on up to Glasgow and don’t forget your Nicola outfit. Orchestrated, manipulative and so transparent

  18. Alasdair Gray in a Scotsman article tells us:

    “When Harold Wilson campaigned in 1970, a very young Conservative flung an egg which broke against him. Wilson showed humour and decency by shouting, “Don’t touch that boy! Let him go! He should be bowling for England!”

    Murphy isn’t in the same league!

  19. It’s another egg-gate. Wee Gordon Mathieson is following Jim around like a wee puppy.

  20. I was there too – sounds like we arrived at roughly the same time. I hung around until they moved from Argyle St a bit further in to St Enoch’s square then carried on my business. A total non-event, a PR stunt and you describe it eloquently. Someone else on this page calls Murphy an Agent Provocateur and I couldn’t agree more, except I haven’t wanted to use that phrase in public at the risk of making him sound much sexier than he is!

  21. smiling vulture

    One of the first tweets was violence by a BBC journalist,no pics or evidence to back it up

    BBC Scotland shames itself again

    can’t wait for May 7th

  22. Something that hasn’t been pointed out in the commentary, in amongst the moans about the rights and wrongs of freedom of speech, is that, if the media is to be believed, the Labour crew somehow contrived to lose this fight.

    Apparently the counterprotest, if that’s what you call it, was about 4 guys from a tiny leftie nationalist sect, and one random passer by who decided he fancied a bit of shouting that day. While Murphy’s mob consisted of Murphy himself, a professional politician who has spent the last year and a half shouting and being shouted at on the street, Eddie Izzard, an alleged comedian, one megaphone and about 40 hardcore members of the Scottish Labour faithful. And these guys had their freedom of speech violently suppressed by being shouted at by a tiny handful of opponents.

    If Scottish Labour are now so peely-wally and cowardly, and their morale is so low, that they can’t hold their own against a tiny crowd of hecklers on a street corner. despite two professional public speakers, electronic amplification and outnumbering their antagonists something like ten to one, how are they to be entrusted against any kind of opposition anywhere? Or with the national defence? Based on this supposed performance, twenty troopers with penknives would be all it took to invade the country, Trident nuclear deterrent or no.

  23. The problem with our society,which is reflected in the behavior of our politicians,is that most people get their information through TV or printed media.
    That is why British Labour do not need boots on the ground in Scotland,only a pliant media which will support their endeavours and present their case to the viewers without any great scrutiny.
    Unfortunately for BL(should be BLT to include the Tories),the Yes campaign exposed this modus operandi and many Scottish voters have moved beyond the stereotype and seek information elsewhere.
    I think that Murphy did understand this and saw Irn Bru crate props as a means of connecting with new wave voters in front of a select audience.
    Unfortunately,he had nothing to say other than nationalism bad bad bad and no one was and is actually listening to his diatribe.
    Too little and far far too late Murphy.

  24. Campbell Duke


  25. Great picture on WOS. Greenock this morning. Says it all.

  26. There was a fascinating we snippet on the Today programme a couple of weeks back, when the campaign manager for John Major’s 1992 election campaign said, of his soapbox campaigning, that ‘eggs were thrown, suits were destroyed, blood was drawn.’ Anyone remember that even making the news, let alone being the end of civilisation as we know it?

  27. breaking news: two comedians heckled in glasgow

  28. Murphy intentionally walking into the cardboard even although he had quite clearly seen it in his path

    within first 20 seconds of video

    when this was photographed from a different angle here is the result – interesting isn’t it how JM intentionally walking into the placard can then be turn around to look like it was force into his face

    Duncan Hothersall – clearly in the know that is was going to kick off and actually gleefully looking forward to it and hoping the camera’s would be there, nothing like letting your leader walk into a potentially dangerous situation and hoping the camera’s are there to see if he gets hurt.

    Jim and Eddie Izzard trying to pin it on SNP – well done to the journalist who challenged them

    Daily mail lost the plot

    “A group of around 30 separatist activists hurled abuse at Mr Murphy”

  29. it gets worse


    Its now a street brawl – no actually it’s plural – multiple street brawls

    OMG@what passes for journalism these days

  30. Jamie Clayton

    Theres always an apology for a mob isn’t there?
    If Derek Bateman can make excuses for this type of behaviour it no wonder he can’t find work with an reputable media organisation. This is not how democracy works it is not how free speech works either and people who condone this type of behaviour have no understanding of freedom let alone any regard for it. People do indeed have the right to question Jim Murphy they do not have the right to shout him down or try to silence him by baying like a rabid mob of angry villagers trying to burn a witch.

    Even Nicola Sturgeon condemned their behaviour, said such things were unacceptable and said they did not represent the SNP if dear leader is not happy why does Derek Bateman need to defend this behaviour when her decree has already been passed down to her loyal subjects?

    • They “do not have the right to shout him down or try to silence him…”?

      Have you watched any of the televised debate? Interrupting & shouting over the top of people trying to speak is his modus operandi, but it’s unfair if people treat him the same way?

      How hypocritical is that?

    • There was no “mob”. Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News, who was present, confirmed that there were only 4 hecklers. This was a contrived farce!

      • If the Branch Manager (temp) wasn’t such an offensive liar, dissembler, illegal war supporter, austerity supporter, bully who as said above talks over everyone, who helped the Tories and the MSM steal the Referendum for the Establishment, who failed while in government to do any of the things he now “promises” Labour will do then people might be more willing to listen to what he has to say. He is the ugly Scottish face of right wing Labour and I have nothing but contempt for him

  31. Dave McEwan Hill

    Cracking comment from Jamie Clayton. Just about the most densely stupid and gratuitously offensive contribution I have come across for some time.
    Derision is the final defeat in politics. Jim Murphy is a national joke But what’s left in Labour isn’t laughing.

  32. Over on LenaTheHyena there’s a useful article on how ‘pwecious’ journalists feel in the face of enthusiastic political discourse. This might account for their wide-eyed reporting of the most dangerous street riot since, well, the Abdication

  33. Funny that. I remember when The Socialist Party of Great Britain had their rallies on a Saturday afternoon in what was then called Royal Exchange Square. They were a fairly Hyde Park corner sort of affair. There were more people attending that event than the Labour automatons yesterday. Yet,I don’t remember coming home to the Media saying there was a rally in Glasgow yesterday, or that there was chaos in the streets. The EBC North Britain outpost must be devolved.

  34. They also claim it was a “walkabout.” It really wasn’t. It was a stand-about, as in “stand about 2 inches or less from each other when the cameras arrive.”

  35. Jim Murphy may not be my or anyone else’s favourite politician, and it’s fair to say he will probably do more for the SNP’s cause than he will for Labour’s, but to try and claim the actions of a few loudmouths whose sole purpose is to disrupt and drown out the opposition message is ” democracy ” in action is complete nonsense and symptomatic of the fervour that’s gripped grass roots nationalists before and since the referendum, the actions of a lot of these activists, who can only be described as left wing republican numpties, was abhorrent and aimed solely at intimidating and silencing other peoples freedom of speech, it has nothing to do with individuals asking legitimate questions of the politicians message and to pretend otherwise is nonsense.

    where is your defence of the rights of the ordinary person on the street who might want to hear what the politician is saying and raise their own questions? where is their freedom to hear or question when everything is drowned out by the baying activists? on what should they base their choice if all they hear is the rabble shouting their mouths off
    there was absolutely nothing stopping an SNP candidate setting up further down the street and delivering they’re own message to the public with people free to chose which message they want to listen to or believe….that’s democracy

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