Less than two months after the referendum, you know, that vote that was supposed to establish the settled will of the Scottish people until the Sun expands in a ball of hot gas and consumes the Earth – or at least for the length of the career of the average Labour politician – a new poll from YouGov has discovered that a significant number of No voters have changed their minds and now want independence. The other significant development is that two months is now also about the average career life of a Labour politician in Scotland. Only may flies have a shorter life expectancy, but they don’t have any mouth parts. Sadly the same cannot be said for Jim Murphy. A male may fly is basically nothing more than a mobile reproductive organ – it’s just a dick sniffing for something to screw – which you can say for Jim Murphy, so order is restored to the universe.
Despite the oft repeated media message that the candidate most feared by “the nationalists” is Jim Murphy – a message largely put about by Jim Murphy and his supporters – it’s not. It’s Sarah Boyack. She is the only candidate with any chance at all of uniting the ragged remains of British Labour in Scotland, and putting an end to its knee-jerk circle-jerk. It’s not a big chance. It is a tiny wee chance, but it’s a chance nonetheless. Jim has nae chance. All Jim is capable of uniting is his bank balance and an expenses claim, or a Middle Eastern country and a Western invasion.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I knew Sarah Boyack at university – she was a Labour hack even then, and a protege of Magrit Curran and Johann. However people can and do change, all those years ago I had a whole lot more hair and a head that was very firmly lodged up my own arse, but Sarah is still a Labour hack. Even so, on a personal level she’s a decent human being. She is also the only one of the three candidates who does not automatically respond to all and any proposal from the SNP as though it was contaminated with the ebola virus. And this is why Sarah has no chance of getting elected.
Even Neil Findlay would make a better party branch manager than Jim. Neil’s idea of taking Labour back to the left is essentially the correct one – but it has precisely zero chance of ever being implemented. Westminster Labour is not going to permit its Scottish branch office to introduce left wing policies which would make it unelectable in England, and the Scottish electorate is not going to be fooled by a Labour party which preaches one thing in Scotland and something else in the rest of the UK. We get the English news on Scottish telly, thanks to the Unionists’ parties insistence that broadcasting is a reserved matter.
Not that either Sarah or Neil have much chance of success even if one of them were elected branch office manager. The truth is that even if British Labour possessed a candidate with the political guile of Machiavelli, the moral stature of Mahatma Gandhi, and the intelligence of Albert Einstein – the party would still be screwed. It’s far too late now, and a change of leadership isn’t nearly enough to turn Labour’s fortunes around. Labour in Scotland has been a long time dying, but it finally shuffled off into an irretrievable demise the day that Davie Cameron persuaded ASDA’s managing director to issue a scare about price rises after independence, and Johann and her wee bunch of minions stood outside a branch of the supermarket grinning like skulls. There is absolutely nothing left for Labour except to crawl under a rock and rot away, unmourned, and unloved, not even fit for the cut price shelf for items at their sell by date.
There’s now a full on media onslaught pushing the Smurph. Sarah Boyack and the other guy – the Ken MacIntosh of this branch manager campaign – have been sidelined and ignored. Other guy is likely to pick up some trade union support in the Byzantine system of elections used by Labour for its branch managers, but the party hierarchy has put its weight very firmly behind the Smugurph. Ed Miliband is very keen for him to get the job, because he hates Jim Murphy as much as anyone else and he’s hoping that the Smugurph will condescend his way to Embra and conveniently remove himself from Westminster. Ed views Jim candidacy as a sort of supermarket BOGOF offer. He gets rid of a troublesome plotter who hates him, and at the same time gets a “big hitter” to rescue his arse in Scotland – or so he thinks. Mostly he just wants Jim to BOGOF, a sentiment he shares with pretty much everyone else. Labour are the baked beans of politics, and just as likely to make you fart.
Meanwhile the Smugurph’s chances of being anything other than a long distance branch manager are receding faster than Ed Miliband’s chances of becoming the next prime minister. Ed may very well end up with the worst of all possible outcomes – he’ll have the odious Jim as Scottish branch manager, and Jim will still be in Westminster. At least until May next year. The Sunday Herald reports today that the three MSPs whose names have been suggested – by Jim’s pals, it has to be said – as willing to stand down in order to allow Jim to contest their seats in a by-election held on the same day as the Westminster General Election have all said that they intend to remain in Holyrood. So nae chance for Jim there then.
This gives Jim a big problem. If he can’t find a seat in Holyrood before the 2016 Scottish elections when he can sneak in as a list MSP, he’ll have to contest his Westminster seat in May 2015. This is because Labour’s rules state quite clearly that their Scottish branch manager has to be either an MP, an MSP or an MEP. And with the current mood of the Scottish electorate, it’s by no means certain that Jim would retain his seat in East Renfrewshire. If he fails to be re-elected, he’d have to stand down as party branch manager and it would be an ignominious end to a less than glorious career as well as an end to his expenses claims. You can be certain that the SNP and the other pro-independence parties will be doing all they can to ensure that Jim gets his jotters in May.