30 Apr 2015

It’s not over til it’s over: Scottish Labour leader keeps on smiling

Well he is either the greatest Houdini in modern still-UK politics or this really is the awful, daily annihilation of the once-monolithic Labour Party in Scotland.

There’s an event a day for the cameras, and today the Labour photo-op is in a carpark on the south bank of the Clyde in Govan, once a solid Labour heartland (OASLH).

How many more OASLHs does the ScotLab boss “Sunny Jim” Murphy have to visit before it is all over? Sorry, before polling day I mean.

But the worse the political weather gets, the Sunnier Jim we get. It’s a kind of inverse Newtonian Law of Political Emotion. Does he go home every night and kick the cat?


Jacket off, pointing at the new election poster in front of twenty-odd party activists and zero public, Sunny Jim is cracking jokes, beaming, frankly relishing it all: “So Jim,” I say as he beams back at me, “if the Scottish Sun won’t support Labour, which papers will?”

It was a serious question. At least that’s what I thought. Sunny Jim just explodes with laughter, a seagull takes off in alarm heading for Greenock and open water: “Ah well we’re gonna start with Channel 4 and work out from there!

“So that’s a no then – no papers support you?”

He jokes again about Channel 4. Either he’s Oscar material or he really is in better form than Nicola Sturgeon, laughing it all off with a selection of mantras:

“a third of Scots are still undecided.

“Vote for the SNP and you’ll get the Tories.

“There is everything to play for.

“I’ve always been the underdog and I’m loving it”

Maybe he just doesn’t care any more. Caught in the vortex of history he knows not much – if anything – can be done facing a nation apparently hellbent on visiting merciless revenge for the Entire New Labour Project.

Then again maybe he knows that with expectations rock bottom even, say, 10 Labour seats – insanely – now looks like victory of sorts.

Maybe the effect of mass tactical voting will save his skin and he knows something we don’t?

So Sunny Jim soldiers on and the more I see, the more I respect the man for it. 30_murphyspeech_w

As a war-correspondent and outsider, I pause at the relentless good humour and sheer dogged civility of it all. The public display, when everything apparently looks so bleak. In genteel old Glasgow a swastika painted on an SNP slogan was something of a news event today.

It all tells a rather civilised story you know. Or more happily for you – you don’t. We dutifully head off to film this Breaking News, leaving Jim joshing and joking with the little huddle in the car park.

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