Raising the Blue Labour saltire on a sinking ship
ADAM RAMSAY 16 December 2014
Labour's crisis in Scotland requires more than a charismatic leader and some dusty ideas from north London.
There are, in fact, contexts in which Jim Murphy might have been exactly what Scottish Labour needed: a decade ago, back in the boom times, you can imagine him articulating a saltired Blairism from Bute House in a way Jack McConnell never quite could. But if the members of Scottish Labour believe that the laws of physics still bend to the rules of the Labour leadership ballot, they are sorely mistaken: Scotland isn't going back in time to 2004. When they needed someone not just to turn their ship around, but to completely re-build it, they have voted for a captain to rally the sailers and raise the flag as it sinks beneath the waves.
There are three problems with Jim Murphy. This first is that he is tied so inextricably to Labour's past decade. At a time when it's clear to everyone that Scottish Labour needs to dramatically break from Blairism, he is a well known supporter of the Iraq War, Trident and austerity. Whatever pretty words he uses to pitch himself to the left, he's got a voting record at Westminster going back 17 years showing otherwise. Labour's problem isn't so much that they say the wrong things, but that people have come to the conclusion that they don't really believe anything. It's not that they need better policies (though they do) it's that they have to actually believe in them.