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Inside Track Labour Party conference special


and I don’t mean it to be but it is a statement of fact, we lost and we had a review but people still seemed to think that the fact that we lost was an accident and it just needed one more heave, one more vote or one more seat and then that would be fine. Frankly, we produced a report that even if we had implemented we wouldn’t have won this year. I just thought I couldn’t stand by and have all that repeated. I don’t want to be in a pattern of being a loser.” Notwithstanding the obvious, that Murphy is as culpable as any other Scottish Labour politician for the lack of a good election campaign message, I ask him why the party lost. “Because the other guys got more votes than


us,” he says glibly. But then more seriously: “We underestimated what the public told us in 2007 and overestimated what they told us in 2010. In 2010, we got over a million votes and our support last year in the general election was really broad but also pretty shallow. Te main reason we lost is a similar reason as to why we lost the British election. Te public have to complete the sentence, ‘I am voting Labour because…’ and not enough people could finish that sentence. Can you? I ask him. “I think I can,” he says. “I vote Labour because I believe the world should be different. I believe it should be fairer and that if you stick to the rules, you should get on and if you do the right thing, government should stick with you and if you don’t, they shouldn’t. I believe in government to make change for the better. “Instead of us presenting a set of clear values and a vision of what we believe in, we were saying to the public, here are 17 policy ideas of which the most eye-catching was about knife crime and while I was fine with that because


20 www.holyrood.com 19 September 2011


knife crime is a real problem, especially in parts of the west of Scotland, my argument isn’t that we didn’t have enough policy, we had loads of policy, my argument is that maybe we had too much policy but not enough vision. “We fell short on vision and inside Scotland,


there was a sense that we weren’t looking at what Scotland might look like in the future. We didn’t say here are the trends: people living longer, immigration up, working patterns


here but were we complacent? Yes. We hadn’t thought about our vision, or our story about Scotland, or the picture of Scotland that we wanted and we didn’t do enough work.” Isn’t he part of that failure and why is it just


“We didn’t capture the vision or the trends, we didn’t do that and yes, what was missing from our campaign was optimism”


changing, shape of families changing, climate change, continuing worries and uncertainties about employment and so on; so here is where Scotland is going and here is where Labour will take it. We didn’t do that. “We didn’t capture the vision or the trends,


we didn’t do that and yes, what was missing from our campaign was optimism. You have to believe your glass is half full in politics, and you have to believe in the power of good in politics in a profession which is enormously damaged through a series of broken promises, the expenses scandal and the general demise of a sense of deference. “And yes, it was about complacency. Look, I am not trying to be critical of any individual


Iain Gray who feels the need to go? Surely, everyone in party HQ should be taking responsibility for the failure of the campaign? “Of course I take my share of the blame,” he says, clearly riled by the suggestion that there should be any sense of individual responsibility. “It’s interesting that you say it’s a very Labour thing to do to attach no blame to one individual but that’s a good thing, is it not, not to blame one person? I think that’s a good thing in this party that you are in


it as part of a team because it is that sense of solidarity that binds us together.” Well, that’s all very well, I say, but the same people that were involved in the 2007 election campaign, the 2011 campaign and are now preparing the strategy for the council elections next year, are all still in post. Is that fair to the hard-working party activists that put in the time and effort working on campaigns that have failed? “It’s not the fault of the party workers. It’s the politicians who are on the ballot paper and it’s their job to take the fall. You don’t blame the civil service when things go wrong in government. Tey all worked as hard as they could but they weren’t working to the right plan. It’s not their fault we lost. We had the wrong


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