Bean over Britain: Workaholic Ian Murray can keep out the nationalists and pave the way for Scottish Labour recovery

8th June, 2017 12:00 pm

There are some parts of the country where people do not get tactical voting, or the issue of swing seats. You point out to them that there are only two possible winners in a seat, and they opt instead for the Greens or some other useless option. Edinburgh South is not one of these places – and the tactical unionist vote, in a city that backed Britain by 61 per cent, seems likely to help Labour’s Ian Murray in the Labour-SNP marginal.

The nationalists have used their ten years in power in Scotland to do very little, and indeed have presided over increasing child poverty, fewer hospital beds and a failing education system. In a year in Holyrood they managed to pass no legislation, except for that which they are legally mandated to do. In fact, on the anniversary of the last legislation passed, the Scottish parliament debated a fresh independence referendum.

Murray, in contrast, actually gives a damn about people in his seat– and he has been ranked the most responsive MP by MySociety in Scotland, and he is clearly proud of his reputation, offering home visits to all of his constituents.

The last Labour MP in Scotland, who hopefully will get some company this time around, is well known and liked on the doorstep – even by members of other parties, and his hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Unlike SNP MSPs and MPs, Murray gets on with the day job of helping his constituents, instead of agitating for a second independence referendum – just a few years after the last.

Many left-leaning people across Britain perhaps have the opinion that the SNP are a progressive party. Whilst they may use the language of the left, and Nicola Sturgeon is undoubtedly a good communicator, this doesn’t match their record in government. For example, the nationalists campaigned on raising the top rate of tax so as to offset the effects on austerity in 2015 but, when an amendment was proposed to the Scottish budget to raise it, the SNP voted it down. The extra money could have been spent on the NHS and schools, but the SNP decided against it, even with failing public services.

Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s leader in Scotland, wrote that it made them no better than the Tories, and frankly it’s hard to see how she’s wrong. Nationalism isn’t progressive – and allowing public services to fail certainly isn’t.

And indeed it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Labour will win back some seats in Scotland – even if, as expected, our vote share drops. Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Gordon Brown’s old seat, and East Renfrewshire, which is being contest by Blair McDougall, former chair of the Better Together campaign, are two that many are keeping a close eye on, should the winds favour us. McDougall particularly is thought able to mobilise the tactical Unionist vote, and if he does so in Jim Murphy’s old seat, you wouldn’t best against him to enter parliament.

Whilst the East Renfrewshire seat doesn’t have an identical constituency in the Scottish parliament, if it had done so in 2016 then it would have returned a Labour candidate to Holyrood. However, the two Scottish parliamentary constituencies that do overlap returned an SNP member and also a Tory – so the more outwardly Unionist party is also launching a fervent campaign for the Westminster seat.

Labour’s road back in Scotland is not going to be solved in this election. But the end of the SNP’s one party state might well be in sight – with the addition of hard-working Labour MPs as a result.

It can only happen with the help of Labour activists and Murray’s team take nothing for granted. So if you’re able to help out – why not be a part of keeping the hardest working MP in Scotland in a job?

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