WANTED: a fall guy to oversee the Scottish Labour Party’s greatest Westminster electoral setback in May 2015 – and be blamed for it afterwards. Seven-month fixed contract.
It seems that Hutchie boy Anas Sarwar doesn’t fancy the job, having ruled himself out this afternoon. But Jim Murphy hasn’t (yet), which has made him the bookies’ favourite. I’m not tempted at 4/5 – Murphy may be a patriot, but he has never hankered after Holyrood. When Tony Blair first asked him to be Europe Minister, he told friends that his first thought was “at least it’s not Scotland”. That was then, though. He has since turned out to be quite good at Scotland, though, and his Irn Bru-box tour of the country during the referendum campaign was bold and successful. He’s faced down nationalists, quite literally, on the campaign stump – so he could easily do it in Holyrood.
Friends of Glasgow-born Mr Murphy revealed last night that he was “considering his options very carefully”.
If Scottish Labour could draft Murphy, they should: he’d be an excellent leader. He’d easily outclass Nicola Surgeon. But Murphy has always struck me as too normal to want to try to try his hand at Holyrood’s Game of Thrones. Whoever takes that job will preside over a bloody feud between Edinburgh Labour and London Labour. The winner of this feud will be the SNP who look likely to win several seats from Labour next May. Anyone who oversaw such a defeat would face calls to resign straight afterwards – and let Scottish Labour move on to its 8th leader in 15 years.
That’s why there’s no clamour to be the Ned Stark of Scottish Labour. Gordon Brown ruled himself out yesterday, Kezia Dugdale did so earlier today (along with Sarwar) but the bookies are still taking bets. The latest odds are below:-
Jim Murphy 4/5
Neil Findlay 11/4