Socialist Worker

Jim Murphy's leadership win will deepen Scottish Labour crisis

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2434

Jim Murphy is the new leader of Labour in Scotland

Jim Murphy is the new leader of Labour in Scotland (Pic: Duncan Brown)


Blairite, Zionist and warmonger Jim Murphy has been elected the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party. 

He convincingly beat his main rival and Labour left candidate MSP Neil Findlay.

The overall result is not a surprise. Murphy won the support of 70 percent of Labour MSPs, MPs and MEPs. Among party members he beat Findlay two to one. 

But support for Findlay among affiliate members—mostly union members—did not reflect the backing union leaders gave him. 

The Labour Party’s crisis in Scotland is likely to deepen with Murphy’s election.

Despite Murphy’s opportunism, his Blairite history will be hard to shake from the minds of voters—and the Scottish National Party (SNP) will make sure people are reminded.

The argument that only voting Labour can beat the Tories will not hold the same sway in Scotland. A majority of Scots voted Labour in 2010 and got a Tory government.

Labour is trailing the SNP by 20 points in a series of polls for next year’s general election.

The SNP’s membership has surged towards 100,000.

Meanwhile, Labour has shrunk to around 13,000, equivalent to the SNP’s trade union group membership.

Disintegration

The disintegration of Labour’s working class base has accelerated since September’s independence referendum, where the biggest Yes votes came from traditional Labour areas. 

The underwhelming proposals from the Smith Commission on increasing devolved powers will only cement the feeling of betrayal among Labour supporters.

Yet it is not just Labour’s Unionist stance that is losing it support. 

Its lack of opposition to austerity is also fuelling the crisis.

Speeches by leading trade unionists in Glasgow show the seismic shift taking place in Labour’s support in Scotland. 

They spoke at a protest last week at Labour-run Glasgow City Council’s decision to cut 40 percent funding to Glasgow Association of Mental Health.

Scotland’s largest Unison union branch secretary and Labour Party member of 30 years told the crowd, “I’m thinking of leaving Labour and tearing up my party card.” 

This was followed by one of the union’s Scottish organisers announcing that they had already left saying, “I’ve joined the party of 100,000.”

Many independence supporters and others on the left now claim Labour is dead in Scotland. 

The problem is many have become cheerleaders for the SNP and too fixated on independence, rather than organising to fight austerity in the here and now.

Labour cannot be written off. But but the urgent task in Scotland is to build a socialist alternative to it, not give support to the SNP. 


Hundreds join mental health cuts protest in Glasgow

Over 300 protested on Thursday of last week against Glasgow Labour council’s decision to cut Glasgow Association of Mental Health’s (GamH) funding by 40 percent.

GamH workers, members and service users stood with trade unionists to voice their opposition. 

Nine Labour councillors outvoted five SNP and two Greens to ram through the cut. Workers now also face redundancies.

One service user told Socialist Worker, “We applaud those SNP councillors who voted against this—maybe they can tell their SNP colleagues in Dundee to do the same.”


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