I joined the Scottish Labour Party more than 50 years ago in Kilmarnock and spent more than 30 years as an activist, councillor and MEP in Scotland and in England.
Even though I was expelled from Labour in 1998 for opposition to Tony Blair (I was ahead of my time!) I still feel some sympathy for the pain that socialists who remain in the Labour Party in Scotland must feel.
The truth is that Labour signed its own death warrant when it decided to get into bed with the Tories and oppose independence.
Labour founder Keir Hardie was a Home Rule man and this was Labour’s view until it was changed by Kilmarnock MP Willie Ross in the 1960s when he became “the hammer of the Nats”.
Just think: if Labour had campaigned for independence, we would have won the vote and Labour could have won the next Scottish Parliament election.
The only person who might stand a chance of pulling Labour together and putting up a fight would be Gordon Brown but the “great clunking fist” sees himself as a colossus on the world stage and is very unlikely to stand, not least because he isn’t certain he would win.
So that leaves Jim Murphy as the likely winner of the leadership election but the certain loser of the general election in Scotland next year and of the Scottish Parliament in 2016.
This is very appropriate as Murphy has been (my Labour friends tell me) plotting Labour’s future in Scotland for the past few years.
I am looking forward to the debates between Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Murphy, in which she will remind him that he was a cheerleader for the Iraq war and a supporter of spending £100 billion replacing Trident, not to mention being Tony Blair’s greatest fan in Scotland.
Jim Murphy may also help in the historic task of gaining independence for Scotland. A Murphy leadership will ensure at least 20 MPs for the SNP next May and I can’t see anyone taking Ed Miliband seriously as an alternative prime minister.
So five more years of a Tory government sustained by a rump of Liberals and a sack of Ukip MPs, a vote to leave the EU in 2017 and lots more cuts will convince the Scottish people that independence is the only answer.
Jim Murphy will go down in history as the Labour leader who helped to break up the Union. I look forward to his election!
Hugh Kerr (former Labour MEP)
I have no doubt that the arrival at Holyrood of Alex Salmond – bringing with him leadership skills and ruthlessness learned at Westminster – was instrumental in turning the SNP from the also-rans to the natural government of Scotland.
If the Labour Party intends to seize that crown again it will need to do it on the back, and political skills, of a leader as heavy a hitter as our soon-to-be-former First Minister, and, despite the names of the young bloods being bandied about as replacements for Johann Lamont I see no such leader emerging from the Labour Party’s Holyrood MSPs. In order to be winners again the Labour Party will need a leaf from the SNP book, and recruit a big beast from Westminster.
But there’s the rub. In order to win, Labour will need a Murphy or a Brown; but if it selects either, London Labour’s hegemony over the party in Scotland will be lost for good.
The choice facing the London Labour establishment is annihilation at the polls in general and regional elections, or victory – after a few years to bed in – but with a Scottish leader too strong to ever be subject to London control. I am beginning to get a whiff of independence-lite again, but from the most unlikely of quarters.