By Bob Duncan
The Labour Party in Scotland has been accused of adopting confused behaviour this weekend after members campaigned shoulder to shoulder with the Tories, despite claims that David Cameron’s party are “hated”.
Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy (pictured) described how he has always ‘hated’ the Tories, but this weekend posed for photos in East Renfrewshire with Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw.
Mr Murphy, who once claimed at a Labour party conference that “Scotland hates the Tories”, repeated a similar claim on the ‘Labour Hame’ website saying: “I really hate much of what the Tory Party has traditionally stood for.
Growing up, I accurately identified them as the selfish party who made the poor poorer under cover of personal responsibility and individual freedom; people all around me suffered and I will neither forget nor forgive.”
Mr Murphy has previously said Scotland can’t afford the risk from Tory policies, Speaking in 2009, the former Secretary of State for Scotland said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Tory Party are a gamble that Scottish families can’t afford…I’m old enough to remember the impact on Scotland the last time the Tories were in Downing Street and we simply can’t afford to go back to those days.”
Another who has made similar claims includes Scottish deputy Leader Anas Sarwar MP who said in a televised debate: “I don’t want this referendum to turn into a false choice between who loves Scotland and who hates the Tories … but most of us hate the Tories.”
The SNP seized on the weekend activities and claimed it showed there was now little between Scottish Labour and the Conservatives.
SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “Jim Murphy says he ‘hates’ the Tories, but he certainly put on a show of forgiving and forgetting at the weekend.
“It’s for the Labour party to explain why they campaign to have damaging Tory policies imposed on Scotland instead of decisions being taken by the people of Scotland.
“Jim Murphy, Anas Sarwar and other bosses in the Labour Party know how uneasy their grassroots are about being a prop for the Tories in the No Campaign – and they know it will irrevocably damage their electability in the hearts and minds of the people of Scotland.”
Jim Murphy and Anas Sarwar aren’t alone in claiming dislike for the Conservatives. Speaking in 2010, Cathie Jamieson, then a Labour MSP before quitting Edinburgh in favour of London, described the Tories as anti-Scottish and said: “The Tories’ mask has slipped. They have an anti-Scottish agenda and they simply can’t be trusted to treat Scotland fairly. A Conservative Government would turn back the clock to the 1980s and be a disaster for Scotland.”
Mr Doris claimed Scottish voters would not be fooled by the claims by Labour. Insisting there was little between any of the Unionist parties when it came to Scotland he added:
“It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious. The people of Scotland deserve so much better. Claiming to be better together, but admitting their hatred for each other is hardly a coherent or positive vision for Scotland.
“How can the likes of Jim Murphy claim we are better together with a Tory Westminster government he previously said would drag the Scottish economy backwards into a second recession which Scotland simply can’t afford?
“They don’t understand or care about what the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland want – the big decisions affecting this country to be made here in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, members of the ‘Better Together’ campaign have been out in shopping centres across Scotland as part of their ‘national campaign weekend’. Passers-by in one shopping centre in Greenock were asked whether they wanted to keep “Scotland in the UK”, but many shoppers walked by and refused the leaflets.
On the ‘Better Together’ campaign website, supporters were urged to sign up to attend events in their home town. In the end, the Greenock event persuaded just 3 people to sign up, and Glasgow only 5, while the campaigns in Arbroath, Irvine and Galashiels were unable to persuade anyone at all.
The press releases from the anti-independence campaign promised events in each of the 52 Scottish constituencies, but the campaign web site shows only 11 events were eventually announced.