Tag Archives: jim murphy

That two horse race is on: Scottish Ashcroft polls show it’s Liberal Democrats against the SNP

As Scottish voters start to receive their postal votes in the next few days, they will have much to contemplate. To what extent will those who oppose independence be prepared to vote tactically to keep the SNP from winning Westminster seats.

Their decision may well be informed by yesterday’s Ashcroft polls which show potential SNP gains in all but one of the constituencies in question. Unfortunately, four of them were seats currently held by the Liberal Democrats.

I found the SNP fifteen points ahead in Charles Kennedy’s seat of Ross, Skye & Lochaber, up from five points in February. I also found the SNP leading by eleven points in Jo Swinson’s constituency of East Dunbartonshire, and by thirteen points in North East Fife, where Sir Menzies Campbell is stepping down after 28 years.

The poll found that Mike Moore is in a tough 3 way fight with the Tories in the Borders. He’s on 28%, the SNP on 29% and the Tories on 30%. It could barely be tighter.

All the polls show decisively, though, apart from the Borders, that it’s a clear two horse race between Liberal Democrat MPs and the SNP. The message to Tory and Labour voters is clear. Do they want an SNP MP primarily motivated by independence and forbidden from standing up for their constituents if their party doesn’t allow it, or a Liberal Democrat who will fight tirelessly for their area.

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This is everything a leaders’ debate should be – with one of the best put-downs ever

Last month, Scotland’s four main party leaders debated each other for Glasgow University’s Politics Society. Willie Rennie, Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon spent an hour and a half discussing everything from austerity to Trident to drugs policy. They did it with loads of thoughtfulness and bags of humour. It makes me very optimistic about the tv debate between these four on Tuesday night and the subsequent one with Greens’ Patrick Harvie later in the campaign. Unfortunately, UKIP will also be taking part in that second debate and given the horrid comments by their MEP about an SNP minister, that could really sour the atmosphere.

It’s actually a very good watch and relevant to people across the whole UK. Willie Rennie was very strong on the economy, highlighting how France had tried the sort of policies that Nicola was advocating and these simply hadn’t worked.  When Nicola Sturgeon implied that her party represented Scotland, he very effectively called her out. Another highlight came when he invited Ruth Davidson to write a joint letter with him to Theresa May asking her to release the drugs policy review that Norman Baker said the Tories had blocked.

That drugs question, by the way, saw an open admission that three of the leaders had taken Cannabis.

You can watch the whole thing below:

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Can Murphy and Dugdale resurrect Labour’s fortunes in Scotland?

Labour Party logoSo, we know that Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale will be the new leadership team for Scottish Labour. Murphy won the leadership with 55% of the vote and Dugdale won the deputy post with 63%.

The result was announced at the Emirates – the one in Glasgow, not, as I initially thought when I was told yesterday, the one in London. But Labour wouldn’t be so stupid as to announce in London when their last leader quit after complaining that Scotland was treated as a branch office.

Murphy is a Big Beast, having been part of the last Labour government for 9 years. He was a staunch Blairite and, of course, voted for the Iraq war and all of Labour’s authoritarian policies from ID cards to 90 days detention.  A pro-war blairite seems hardly in keeping with the zeitgeist, it has to be said.

He’s a deeply polarising figure. It’s hard to see how he can unite the Labour Party, let alone the country. His rhetoric way back when he was Secretary of State for Scotland was divisive and he’s continued in that vein. In 2010, he described the divide between Labour and the SNP as Patriots vs Nationalists, language which I find at best unhelpful, at worst irresponsible. I wrote back then about how wrong I felt it was to use patriotism as a political weapon. Particularly when our country is recovering from an emotionally bruising referendum, it’s even more nasty, brutal and irrelevant than ever. Even combining it with the word “optimistic”, as he did this morning, makes me feel queasy.

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Jim Murphy returns to Scottish independence campaign trail, promises more powers for Scottish Parliament

Jim MurphyNever let it be said that I’m not good to my niece. This morning I took her into Edinburgh to see the return of Labour’s Jim Murphy and his Irn Bru crates to the Independence Referendum trail. You may remember he had to call his “100 town in 100 days” tour off at the end of last week after encountering angry mobs of Yes campaigners. 

A much friendlier crowd, estimated by the BBC to be around 300, turned up to see him today in one of the most beautiful locations in Edinburgh outside the National Gallery which has the Castle behind and views down to the Scott Monument and Waverley Bridge.

I have to say I’m not Murphy’s biggest fan. I don’t like the language he has used in the past, saying that he is a patriot, not a nationalist. Everyone involved in this campaign has the best interests of Scotland at heart. There is just a fairly fundamental disagreement on how to deliver the best future  and I think that using words like patriotic raises the toxicity level of  the debate unnecessarily. I may be alone in this. I know Tim Farron used the word a lot during the European elections – and I told him exactly the same thing. There was a marked softening of that nationalist/patriot rhetoric from Murphy today. He used the word patriotic much more often than I am comfortable with, but he did acknowledge that it applied to everyone who loved Scotland.

It was standard campaign stuff with a bit of humour. He said that we could heckle him all we liked so long as we didn’t play with his crates. He’s also learned early on in the campaign not to give questioners the microphone because the first time he did that, they ran off with it. He looked very comfortable on the stump. As my niece wryly remarked, “It’ll be doing wonders for his ego.” There were a couple of heckles, and someone unfurled a big saltire with YES on it at the back. Oh, and there was a Sun journalist in a chicken suit for some reason best known to themselves. No eggs, though, this time. 

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Michael Moore “turned down chance to resign Cabinet post”

A report in today’s Herald suggests that former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore was offered the chance to resign from the Cabinet rather than be sacked. A “spend more time with his family” scenario was apparently Nick Clegg’s first choice method of removal. Moore, though, was reportedly not having any of it:

In what might have been meant as a conciliatory gesture, Mr Clegg offered his Cabinet colleague the chance to resign. But friends of Mr Moore made clear the Borders MP rebuffed the offer immediately, telling his party leader: “If you are going to sack me, sack me. I won’t

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Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism #9

Who does Alex Salmond think he is?

With all three main party leaders having now agreed to participate in televised debates in the run-up to the next general election, Scotland’s Opportunist-in-Chief is threatening to throw his toys out of the pram
unless he’s included in any debate shown north of the border.

But Salmond is indulging in pure gesture politics once again. As my colleague Stephen Glenn has pointed out before, Salmond has no right to expect to take part in a leaders’ debate when he won’t even be a candidate at the next Westminster election.

He leads the fifth biggest party at Westminster (behind the Democratic Unionists) and will be fielding candidates in less than 10 per cent of constituencies UK-wide.

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments
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