Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The "post-truth" Jackanory Jim

I have my fears for the Polling Matters podcast, as it gradually deepens its new relationship with Stormfront Lite.  It's just introduced a readers' questions feature, and it's surely now only a matter of time before Sean Thomas is presenting a regular 'Bangkok Brothels Review' slot on the show.  The rot hasn't set in quite yet, though, and the latest episode is once again a good listen, with Ed Miliband's private pollster James Morris giving the inside story of the election campaign from his own point of view.  As I understand it, Labour was his client and not his employer, which probably explains why there's no spin in evidence at all.

Scotland is only mentioned in passing, but three points of relevance to us are raised -

1) We're told that a Labour internal poll "last year" showed the SNP in the high 40s, with Labour way behind, vying with the Tories for second place.  The figures were initially distrusted, until a poll the following day showed much the same story.  This is quite a vague anecdote, but I'm wondering if it means that Labour had 24 hours' notice of the bombshell that was about to hit when Ipsos-Mori published their famous poll in late October, showing the SNP on 52% and Labour on 23%.  Other than subsamples, there had been no indication prior to that of the scale of the SNP surge.

2) Morris concedes that there are some differences between public attitudes in Scotland and the rest of the UK - for example, Scots are opposed to austerity, and are somewhat more liberal on immigration.  However, he insists (in line with the familiar establishment consensus) that these differences are overplayed, and that Labour's weaknesses south of the border are much the same as their weaknesses north of the border - Scots are just as sceptical as people in England about Labour's competence in managing public finances, and in protecting the UK's borders.  I'm inclined to say "up to a point, Lord Copper", because you also have to take into account public attitudes to Labour's main opponent in each country.  The SNP won a landslide while being explicitly positive about the benefits of immigration - it's very hard to imagine any party doing that in England in the foreseeable future.

3) We're told that Labour genuinely expected to form the new government, even though they recognised it was doubtful that they would be the largest single party.  This is the most compelling evidence yet that Jim Murphy and the rest of the Scottish Labour party were directly lying to the public when they repeatedly insisted that the largest party would get to form the government (in an attempt to frighten people into voting Labour rather than SNP).  In private, they not only accepted the constitutional theory that the second-largest party could form a government, they actually thought that was the most likely outcome of the election.

What was that Jim Murphy was saying the other day about Scottish politics operating within a "post-truth" environment?  Well, he should know if anyone does, I suppose.


  1. The thing is, there is little about Murphy's back story, election narrative, or future postulations that have the ring of truth about them.
    The media have failed to find the ' real' Jim, either in a drawer, in S Africa or in the Labour Party.
    That is largely because they haven't asked. In fact, they have suspended any normal journalistic practices with Spud.
    I don't think we have seen the last of Jim Murphy.

    1. That's Lord Murphy to you. He said he was finished with elected politics, which in the long run can only mean one thing...

    2. According to the Sunday Herald, he said he wouldn't take a peerage. Don't know if he put a timescale on that, mind.

  2. I do wonder how many stayed home when Milliband said he would prefer Tories in power than to work with SNP.

  3. Poor old New Labour. They still haven't twigged, have they? You don't build a political movement that engages with the voters by employing campaign managers and policy strategists to pore over opinion polls and focus group results in order to decide how to fine tune your policies to target the requisite number of voters in key target marginals. OK those things might play a part but it is no good working on the message if you have no-one to deliver it.

    Labour's website still fondly talks about "the Labour movement". What movement, their membership is dwindling to next to nothing, they can't distance themselves from the trade unions far enough or fast enough and the Co-operative membership is nowadays nothing more than a supermarket loyalty card. They don't have a movement, just a party organisation with ever less party to organise.

    If Labour want to ever get back into the business of being a serious electoral force they need to stop focussing on getting 35% of the vote on election day and actually build some popular support among the voters.

    1. Poor old New Labour. They still haven't twigged, have they? You don't build a political movement that engages with the voters by employing campaign managers and policy strategists to pore over opinion polls and focus group results in order to decide how to fine tune your policies to target the requisite number of voters in key target marginals.

      But that's exactly how they achieved their biggest winning streak ever. The Tories aren't particularly engaged with the voters, so Labour don't need to be either. They just need to appear less awful than their main opponent.

      The Scottish context is different, of course, but I suspect Labour are going to give up on actively trying to win Scotland and just wait for people to get fed up of the SNP.

    2. Well, they are not actively winning England either, are they? I think your analysis is somewhat suspect. If there is no clear blue water between a Labour manifesto and a Tory manifesto why vote for the poorer product? For the Tories don't deny their rapaciousness. The Labour Party nowadays agrees but says it behind a handkerchief. That has been the Blair / Brown era in shorthand has it not?

      There used to be battles to be had, but now it is a matter of nuance.

      Frankly Labour has already given up on Scotland and I doubt that there is a way back for them. We already have a minor split in the Tories, Ruth Davidson is apparently big on Human Rights. I expect that labour have been squeezed from the left and are about to be squeezed from the right.

      It is hard to accept that people that have crossed the Rubicon are about to retreat and attempt to re-build a bridge that is shattered.

      The people that I sang along with about getting rid of Polaris were Labour Party voters. How do you think they feel about the betrayal of unilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons?

      This has been a glacially slow process, but I think your optimisim that labour would be the beneficiaries of any ennui with the SNP is utterly misplaced.

  4. A political party/movement is formed from a groundswell of folk electing representatives.
    It doesn't come from Westminster troughers saying they represent a movement that doesn't exist any more.
    Murphy is a deep cover,paid agent of the USA desire to control the world. His masters will bankroll him as long as they think he has a chance of pushing their agenda.

  5. I have been mystified for a long time how Murphy rose above lobby fodder backbenchdom to holding cabinet office. He is an extremely poor orator, parroting blairite platitudes.

    Whenever he starts to spout his made up stories about poor people coming to him because they cannae shoe their weans even the most inastute observer must surely see the out and out lies and insincerity oozing out of him.

    His history of expense massaging and murky presidency of the NUS followed by his right wing affiliations with American societies should have finished him a lot earlier than this.

    Its mind blowing how much credibility he is still given.

    I can't think of any other political figure more cringeworthy. A completely unattractive personality in every single way. He seems to have earned a bob or two along the way though....

    1. In many respects he's living embodiment of Labour's soul, the epitome of its core values.

      The love child of Leona Helmsley and Uriah Heep.

  6. A peerage would be wasted on teetotal Murphy.
    All that cheap champagne which he would have to pass on.
    I suppose he could always give up his share to people like Foulkes.

  7. I think it is your third point that damns Jim Murphy, irrevocably.

    As an elector I expect a minimal standard of decency from the people I am expected to vote for.

    I am not getting it either now nor in the recent past from any unionist party, they are dissembling as though that was a legitimate policy. The bully boys are in town.

    But does the lie not stretch all the way to the top? Why did Milliband do the Tories work for them in stating categorically that he would rather not form a government than work in coalition (lite, heavy whatever) with the SNP? In the end it did him no good whatsoever.

    Personally I think England needs it's own Merkel like candidate, and I search the horizon and nowhere is that to be seen.

  8. I don't know if it is possible for Labour to be more dead than it is now, but if Murphy was given a seat in the HofLs, it couldn't come back even as a zombie.

  9. Murphy will hang around Labour like a bad smell.

    He will pop up again somewhere to the detriment to some electorate.

    He is unemployable elsewhere and a Perennial Weed.

  10. I clearly recall Jim Murphy on some pre Scottish referendum TV programme, on being asked to describe his past, state in a badly configured Monty Pythonesque tribute sketch that his family were so poor that he slept in "the top drawer" of a chest belonging to his grandfather.
    What I want to know is, did he fall out and bang his head, hence his dizzying rise to the bottom?
    I keep my 'unmentionables' in my top drawer - someone's grandfather was obviously ahead of the game.

    1. Not too sure about that Clarinda but in France the midwives drop the newborn on their heads and the higher they bounce, the faster they get a driving licence.

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