What happens when you call an election and no one comes? Labour looks like it may be about to find out as each of those tipped as future pretendy leader of the pretendy “Scottish Labour” branch office rule themselves out the running. It’s like a PE fitba selection in reverse – oh dear God don’t pick me. None of the dinosaurs want the job because they’re staring extinction in the face as it is, and besides, Ian Davidson has issued a statement saying he’s got to stay in and wash his hair. None of the so-called big hitters want the job because they know they’ll only get hit bigger. None of the young hopefuls want the job because they would like to have a career that lasts longer than a tub of lard held up to a hair dryer. At the rate things are going, we’d end up with Jackie Baillie because there’s no one else left. However Jackie has also ruled herself out, on account of the fact that she’d melt.
On Monday Gordie Broon announced doesn’t want the job because it would mean he’d actually have to do some work and attend sessions of Parliament – and then stand for Holyrood and attend there. It would have a serious impact on his career as an after dinner spokes hypnotist, helping businesspersons who can’t switch off to enjoy a good sleep. Gordie has an aversion to being challenged, so he can’t stand as it would mean that he’d be challenged weekly at FMQs. He didn’t spend the entire referendum campaign talking to no one but hand-picked audiences for nothing. Hand picked audiences of Labour supporters don’t answer back.
Anas Sarwar, the interim hereditary leader, announced today that he won’t stand as his daddy won’t let him give up the family heirloom seat in Govan. Holding the seat in Govan is sort of like being the Prince of Wales, it’s occupied by the future Governor of the Punjab. Anas has fond hopes that one day he can pass it on to his own wee Sarwar, who – according to a persistent rumour -Anas sends to a private school because he doesn’t want his children to associate with the kind of scruff that Anas relies on to vote for him.
Anas refusing to stand means that there is a very real likelihood that both the leader and deputy leader of the ahem “Scottish” Labour party will be Westminster MPs – an eventuality which rather proves Johann’s branch office run from London point. Jim Murphy is the only well known name who has not so far ruled himself out. Jim thinks he’d be a great leader because he fancies himself as spunky. Like a spermatazoa, Jim has a one in a billion chance of turning into a real human being. Many in the party think that Jim is ideal for the job as he epitomises all that the moribund modern Labour party stands for – self-serving careerism, bloated expenses claims, a dictatorial nature, a willful failure to listen to or understand what Scottish voters want, a complete lack of principles, and as a bonus he already looks like a cadaver.
The other potential contender is a guy called Neil Findlay, a list MSP for Lothian whose main selling point is that no one outside of Holyrood’s Labour group has ever heard of him, and half of Holyrood’s Labour group haven’t heard of him either. This is a major advantage as it makes Neil one of the very few Labour politicians in Scotland who don’t provoke guffaws and derisory howls from the electorate whenever their name is mentioned. Neil wants to take Labour to the left, and recover the party’s socialist principles, hoping to appeal to that aged and dying off section of the voting public which can actually remember when Labour was supposed to be a left wing party. Which is no one under the age of 90.
The problem with Neil’s prospectus is of course that even if he does succeed in taking the pretendy leadership of a party the doesn’t really exist, the dinosaurs in charge of the branch office will put the kybosh on his leftwards movement in about as long as it takes to say velociraptor. It may be relevant at this juncture to point out that the makers of the Jurassic Park movie took considerable liberties in the depiction of the velociraptor, which in real life was about the size of a turkey. This would make Labour the first organisation in the history of politics to have been culled by an extinct turkey. And it’s not even Christmas.
There’s been some speculation in the media, or at least by Alex Massie, that Jim Murphy represents the only serious threat to the SNP and this is why he’s attracted most attacks from 45ers on social media. This is not true. The reason Jim Murphy is a favourite target of attacks is because he’s Jim Murphy. Why bother attacking someone no one has ever heard of when you can launch a few verbal lobs at the man who sums up in a single individual all that has gone wrong with Labour over the past 20 odd years. What’s the problem with Labour? Jim Murphy. See – that makes sense.
But a new leader – whether it’s the death-head Jim or the guy nobody knows – won’t be able to solve Labour’s problems. Today we’ve had a succession of Labour figures on the telly telling us that Johann was quite mistaken when she said that they were out of touch, and proved it by denying that there were any issue to address at all. David Blunkett was aghast at the very notion that Labour in Scotland might have policies that differ from those of Labour elsewhere in the UK, demonstrating that he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of “Scottish Labour” as anything other than a brand name for Ed Miliband north of the border. This is as much a problem for Labour as Jim Murphy is.
Meanwhile the Smith Commission is working to a strict timetable as Labour tears itself apart. Does anyone know any more what Labour is proposing for our lovely new devolution settlement? Did anyone know before Johann resigned? Answers on a postcard to the Smith Commission.