I had no intentions of revisiting this topic, ever.
However the events of the last few days look like the fates and the Labour party are conspiring to mock Mr Murphy and his crew. Almost everything has gone to plan: Labour lost the election; Ed Miliband resigned; Ed Balls lost his seat; there are calls for the Labour party to move ever rightward; and now Chuka Umunna has withdrawn from the leadership contest.
It has become the perfect battleground for Jim Murphy to ride to the rescue of the Labour Party, he is untouched by the failure of the last leader and his cohorts. Murphy would be leading a charge of 40+ Labour Scottish parliamentarians and a substantial number of Blairites. His biggest rivals are now out of the contest. He would be almost unassailable in his quest to be the new leader of the Labour Party. Of course, he would relinquish his claim on the Scottish leadership; a title he never really wanted.
In fact the only thing wrong with this scenario, is that Murphy himself is not in power. He is barely hanging on with his fingertips and in the next few weeks enough MSPs (and most likely the new leader of the Labour party) will be stamping hard on those fingers. So Jim is not ascending to the summit but looking into the abyss at the end of his political career. However, it won’t just be the end of his career but also the end of the careers of his acolytes. This is the reason he refuses to leave quietly, he is hoping against all the odds that something will turn up to save him so he is burrowing in deeper than a tic on a dogs backside. He will only be removed by surgery and as with all surgery there is some danger that the host will be damaged.
The SNP can look on in undisguised amusement while this plays out; Nicola Sturgeon at FMQ asked if she could sign the petition to keep Jim Murphy. Flippant though the comment was, it shows the low regard for Murphy as a politician that most people have. He would have had some grudging sympathy if he had followed other leader’s example and the day after the election announced he was going to resign. However, Murphy had no intention of resigning, even after presiding over the worst election showing for the Labour Party in Scotland for almost 100 years. After Len McCLuskey’s intervention, blaming Murphy not only for the Scottish drubbing but also Labours poor showing in England (1), it seems inconceivable that he is going to fight this out to the bitter end. But Jim is made of sterner stuff, or more likely his acolytes are, and he is manning the barricades.
The entertainment value of this last stand should not be underestimated. If Johann Lamont’s parting hand grenade about being treated like a branch office caused some disquiet in Labour ranks, goodness knows what they will do when Jim launches his MAD defence.