James Forsyth

Murphy’s mission

Murphy's mission
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The proverbial visitor from Mars would assume that the Scottish Nationalists had won—not lost—September’s referendum. Alex Salmond has given another crowing interview today, you can read mine with him from The Spectator’s Christmas issue here, in which he offers advice to England on how to rediscover itself. While the crisis in Scottish Labour continues.

In an interview with The Guardian, Labour’s new Scottish leader Jim Murphy drives home how big a challenge the party faces there, ‘We’re 20% behind. Just to get even we have to close the gap by 1% a week.’

Murphy is also remarkably frank about the quality of the leaders that preceded him. When Libby Brooks asks him about the SNP’s attempt to label him as pro-Trident, he replies, ‘It’s what the SNP are trying to brand me as: the ‘more nuclear weapons’ guy. If that’s all they’ve got, then fine. For me, the label gives me confidence, because what’s obviously come out of their focus groups is they’re up against someone who isn’t shit.’

There is, though, chatter in Westminster that a change in Scottish Labour position on Trident might be in the offing. Some suggest that it could be made a matter of conscience like abortion or euthanasia. This would enable some Scottish Labour MPs facing a particularly strong SNP challenge to come out against it without having the party as a whole renounce it.