Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  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:

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

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.