Murphy’s lips are moving…

JIM MURPHY: his right hand man and chief of staff John McTernan told a Tory conference fringe meeting that the brutality of the Thatcher years was a good thing

JIM MURPHY: his right hand man and chief of staff John McTernan told a Tory conference fringe meeting that the brutality of the Thatcher years was a good thing

by Ken Ferguson No need for a smart watch to count the ticking countdown to what looks increasingly like Labour’s date with doom on 7 May. Just count the increasingly frantic policy announcements from Messiah Murphy as he twists and squirms to reposition Scottish Labour in Scotland’s mainstream. A thousand nurses, cash for young workers, public ownership of rail—the left sounding promises come thick and fast. But there’s a problem. The ideas being sold by Murphy are ones which the arch Blairite has spent his political life opposing and voting against.

An outstanding example is his pledge not to introduce tuition fees if Labour takes power in Holyrood in the future. Let’s leave aside the fact that pledges on tuition fees after the Clegg betrayal face a credibility gap, Murphy was a member of the Blair parliament that introduced them and enthusiastically backed them.

In many ways this far from mainstream issue has become of symbolic importance in the mind of a public who know that Murphy, like failed Prime Minister Gordon Brown and incorrigible warmonger Lord Reid enjoyed a fee-free grant-supported university education before hauling up the ladder for others and saddling them with debt.

No amount of policy posturing seems able to erase the public’s belief that the once people’s party is, like the other Westminster politicians, is just as self-seeking and servants of the rich and powerful.

Faced with this, Comrade Murphy’s heart must have been in his boots when, on the heels of more “socialist” rhetoric, a recording emerged of his right hand man and chief of staff John McTernan telling a Tory conference fringe meeting that the brutality of the Thatcher years was a good thing.

Pit closures, Ravenscraig demolished, Poll Tax introduced—the list is a long one and burnt the idea of the anti-Scottish Tories into the public mind.

Now the recent hugging and kissing—literally in some cases—with Scottish Labour and Thatcher’s heirs in Better Together is a central reason for their near terminal crisis.

The rapid rise of the SNP and the likelihood that they are about to replace Labour as the dominant force in Scottish politics is discussed in some detail in this Voice and it has proved a significant attraction for many on the left with clearly progressive policies against Trident renewal, on equality and opposition to the privatisation madness sweeping England’s NHS alongside demands for an anti-austerity programme.

However, leaving aside the speculation about the post-May landscape, the issue is how the left advances ideas and campaigns to meet the real needs of people and how to fashion the forces to make them a reality.

One myth that must be put to the sword is that idea that socialist ideas are old fashioned and out of date. Poll after poll shows support for key socialist demands such as public ownership of rail and profiteering power companies, and an NHS without greedy money-seekers leeching on it are highly popular.

Likewise, socialist ideas have a key role to play in solving the housing crisis with a large scale programme building quality sustainable homes for rent or tackling pollution with free public transport.

The ideas and resources to take head on the major problems of poverty, inequality and spiralling rents exist. What is required is the political will to introduce them.

The Scottish Socialist Party has fought for such policies since its formation in 1998, and it is its pioneering work which has led to gains such a free prescription and free school meals—both originally proposed by the SSP.

In the teeth of austerity and war, faced with a spiralling social and environmental crisis, we boldly assert that another Scotland in another world is both possible and vitally necessary. We will work all-out to win that struggle, and work with others of like mind to bring it about.

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  1. Murphy’s lips are moving… | Scottish Socialist Voice - The People's Republic of Clydebank

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