Labour figure predicts ‘damage limitation’ strategy


By Newsnet Scotland Reporter

The new Scottish Labour leader faces two “damage limitation” elections at UK and Scottish levels until a hoped-for recovery in fortunes at the end of the decade, according to former leading party figure Steven Purcell.

Purcell, Glasgow City Council leader until his abrupt exit from politics in 2010, believes that the “anointed” leader – Jim Murphy MP – will see his party lose Westminster seats in next year’s UK General Election, followed by a third SNP victory in Holyrood in 2016.

In a trenchant Bateman Broadcasting interview this weekend, Purcell claimed that his party has failed to understand the success of the SNP since 2007, and the social and economic trends behind the 45 per cent vote for Yes in the independence referendum.

As examples, Purcell pointed to the massive Yes vote in key Labour constituencies, as poor people – working and non-working – reacted to the political realities of austerity and the growing economic imbalance across the UK. He said that too many Labour activists think they lost to the SNP in 2007 and 2011 only because the Nationalists were “better organised”.

Purcell believes that the pattern of Yes voting illustrates a fault line in the Labour vote, adding that there is no guarantee that supporters who deserted them in Holyrood polls, or who voted Yes in 2014 will return to the fold in 2015.

He says the return of “neo conservative” policies within the UK Government – personified by Chancellor George Osborne and other leading figures – means that the UK faces a sharp move to the right, illustrated in part by the massive rise of UKIP in Labour heartlands such as the North of England.

He accuses party leader Ed Miliband of failing “to define what Labour stands for” in this realigned politics, and risking the further loss of support in Scotland.

Purcell believes Prime Minister David Cameron has outmanoeuvred Miliband, adding: “I’m sad to say that for my party a lot of chickens are coming home to roost.”

He conceded that he had always thought that the former Labour MP and anti-devolution Tam Dalyell’s analysis of a Scottish Parliament being “a motorway with no exits” towards independence had been correct, and predicts that the SNP will at least double its number of Westminster MPs to 12 next Spring, as well as winning the following Holyrood election comfortably.

Purcell says if elected as Scottish leader, Murphy will have to demonstrate quickly that he is “no longer Westminster’s man in Scotland”.


In the same Bateman Broadcasting programme, constitutional law expert Professor Tony Carty argues that the late intervention of the Better Together parties, with their promise of “more powers for a No vote” may have breached the law.

“The main value of the referendum has been lost, because of ‘The Vow’, which means that it is not clear what the Scottish people have voted for,” asserts Carty.

Both contributors are sceptical about the powers indicated in the recent Smith Commission report. Carty believes that the SNP’s proposed land reform changes demonstrate how much different Scotland is becoming from England.

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