New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
15 December 2014

Jim Murphy: I don’t need Westminster or to consult Ed Miliband

The new Scottish Labour leader hits out.

By Anoosh Chakelian

Just a day into his leadership of the Scottish Labour party, Jim Murphy began rather zealously distancing himself from Westminster.

On BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics on Sunday (listen from 50.52), he objected heartily to the idea of being issued instructions by the national party’s leadership. But this wasn’t just paying lip service to listening to the people of Scotland; he emphasised that he would not need direction from Westminster, nor from Ed Miliband specifically.

My colleague Caroline Crampton, who was a guest on the programme, asked him how he would avoid the situation that his predecessor, Johann Lamont, described of Scottish Labour being treated as a “branch office” of the Westminster party.

I didn’t agree with the comment about the branch office, and I’m going to make clear how that’s going to change . . .  I’m not sure I need the support of Westminster. The decisions about Scotland were made in Scotland. I’m big enough, and despite being on the wireless, your listeners might know I’m ugly enough, and I’ve been around long enough not to be pushed around.

When pushed on whether he would be consulting Ed Miliband, Murphy was adamant:

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

I don’t need to consult the leader.

He continued:

The days in which anyone needed permission, from the Labour party, or anyone else in the United Kingdom, to make a decision about what happens in Scotland are gone, they’re gone for good, and they’re not coming back. I need no one’s permission. I need consult no one on the issues that are devolved in Scotland, other than the people of Scotland and the Scottish Labour Party. That’s the way it’s going to be in future.

It’s worth watching whether this will be Murphy’s line from now on, and whether he actually manages to break Scottish Labour so comprehensively from the centre. It is a savvy strategy on his part; distancing himself and his party from Westminster can only help pick up votes lost from Scots disillusioned with London-centric politics. However, it makes things tricky for Miliband if one of his former frontbenchers and key ally in Scotland will no longer consult him.

Content from our partners
The power of place in tackling climate change
Tackling the UK's biggest health challenges
"Heat or eat": how to help millions in fuel poverty – with British Gas Energy Trust