Since the resignation of Johan Lamont last month, the Labour Leadership and Party is said to be in an “extreme crisis” in Scotland. Although the majority of Scots voted against independence, it feels although the Labour Party has been short changed after the campaign. Between the Conservatives playing a masterful political game campaigning for “English votes for English Laws” – just minutes after the historic announcement was made for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom – and the continued rise of the Scottish National Party.
Public opinion has avalanched to an all-time low in Scotland, with a recent poll suggesting only four MPs could be returned to Parliament after the 2015 General Election. As such, varied public opinion in Scotland has shifted dramatically, with the upsurge in membership and votes for the Pro-Independence parties, it, by the looks of things, could well be the death of the Labour Party.
Soon, the Labour Party will be asked to vote on their next leader in Scotland, and as some opinions suggest the lead candidate is Jim Murphy. Is he the right candidate?
After all, Murphy has a track record – he’s known for being a bully. Murphy also supported the Iraq war and supports the state of Israel. Further to that, Murphy is a strong supporter of New Labour and Trident. And most of all a “career politician” that quite frankly has no clue what goes on in the real world. And, if any of those in the Labour Party actually paid attention to what happened during the Referendum campaign, it was most of all a cry for change, and not about what Murphy represents. So, if Labour wants to have a real chance of being on the pitch during the General Election, members will really need to take into consideration if the status quo will do.
In contrast, another candidate standing for the leadership is Neil Findlay. Neil in comparison to Jim, is a “real person”, who has worked in the public and private sectors before entering politics. Further to that, Neil is arguably someone of left wing origin. Findlay has spoken out against nuclear weapons, and is a key sympathiser for further powers to be returned to the Scottish Parliament. This in comparison is a million miles away from Jim Murphy and the majority of the Scottish people.
If the Labour Party aims to save face in Scotland, the leader by default has to be Neil Findlay. Neil has by far got a broader working profile from working on a building site to working as a teacher, and as such can reach out to the electorate and engage with real life issues as he has lived and worked through them. In comparison to Jim, who pontificates from Westminster and has never had another job apart from working in politics.
With a recent poll suggesting that 52% of the Scottish people would be in favour of Independence if the vote was tomorrow, the Labour Party has an uphill struggle to say the least.
So with the candidates ready for a political war, it is now up to the Labour membership to choose their leader, and take them forward and reengage with the Scottish electorate. Will Labour choose wisely or will it be another out of touch career politician?
By Duncan Burns