Come clean on member numbers, Jim

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I see that new Labour leader Jim Murphy has been claiming that Labour in Scotland has around 20,000 members, however since Labour ­refused to publish the numbers ­voting in his leadership election I think we have to take that figure with a strong pinch of salt.

Indeed, insiders in the ­Labour Party tell me the real figure is nearer half that.

The other factor resulting from the leadership vote is the number of socialists ­leaving the Labour Party now that they have elected a Blairite leader who supported the Iraq war and the renewal of Trident.

Again, we don’t have any numbers but there are some prominent names such as Mary Lockhart, a former chair of the Co-operative Party, and Pat Kelly, a former leader of the STUC. Of course, the vote for Murphy in both the MPs’ section and the individual members’ section suggests that socialists are a minority in Labour. I can tell them as a former Labour MEP expelled by New Labour for his opposition to their reactionary policies that they will find a warm home in the SNP.

The contrast between Labour and the SNP was brought home sharply in two news items on Monday: Nicola Sturgeon made an alliance with the Greens and Plaid Cymru against austerity whereas Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, announced Labour would back Tory cuts in public spending of £30 billion.

Jim Murphy is claiming to develop his own policy. Let us see if he refutes this or ­Labour’s commitment to waste £100 billion on Trident. I am not holding my breath!

Hugh Kerr 
(former Labour MEP)

Wharton Square

Edinburgh

Bob Taylor and Joseph Miller make some very cogent observations about the newly reinvented Jim Murphy (Letters, 16 December). However, it’ll be a cold day in Hell when unionist contributors to these pages concede that cuts in public services could ever have ­anything to do with Chancellor George Osborne’s failed austerity programme.

It also seems that to carry out Mr Murphy’s grand plan to reconstitute the branch ­office as an autonomous satellite and get a new message over, he will need an small army of willing volunteers.

Does this explain the determined reluctance of Labour’s Scottish office to reveal precisely how many members the party has? And why are the media so reluctant to prise this information from them?

Mr Murphy has turned himself into a democratic socialist caricature of his former self and now fits well into the old parody.

I think we all know the tune:

“He’ll change the party bit by bit. So that you won’t notice it

And just to prove he is sincere.

He’ll sing the Red Flag once a year.”

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh

Jim Murphy’s macho “unilateral declaration of independence” from London Labour is mere shadow-boxing.

Ed Miliband will welcome the replacement of the ­ineffectual Johann Lamont by a self-proclaimed political bruiser spoiling for a war on the SNP as Christmas come early.

Knowing he has no personal chance of rousing Scottish Labour from its current somnolence, and terrified of losing Westminster seats to the SNP, Miliband will give Murphy a completely free hand. Indeed, it’s not too outrageous to wonder whether UK Labour is behind the whole charade. Any latter-day Alastair Campbell spin merchant in Labour’s ranks would be likely to hatch such a plot the moment Ms Lamont uttered the term “branch office”, so that the resulting rebellious war cry would have been sounded by whichever of the leadership candidates was successful.

Mr Murphy was given ­positive personal credit for securing the No vote which preserved the Union, so his party loyalty must be predominantly to Labour at UK level; unlike the SNP and other ­nationalist parties, Labour in Scotland, despite separate government, is indeed subservient to its UK party HQ.

To my knowledge no Scottish Labour Party exists, but if Mr Murphy went too far with his independent stance, then an SLP would be inevitable –and independent.

Robert Dow

Ormiston Road

Tranent