JIM MURPHY was in good form when he launched his Labour leadership yesterday – although one of his jokes fell into the questionable category.
Illustrating the public’s obsession with politics during the referendum campaign, he recalled he ran into a Glasgow hen party when he popped into a take-away for a pizza.
Having had an evening downing tequila slammers, the ladies were discussing “full fiscal autonomy”. Jim was stunned that these over-refreshed women in vulgar costume were obsessing about constitutional change rather than forthcoming nuptials. “They were talking about full fiscal autonomy and the bride-to-be was wearing a necklace made out of condoms, for goodness sake,” Murphy said, before reassuring his audience that the French Letters were “unused”.
Cameras silence South African accent
Murphy made much of his background as he set out his stall for the Labour leadership, including the part of his youth spent in South Africa after his family emigrated from Glasgow to find work.
Appalled by the racial inequality, he left South Africa to avoid national service in its apartheid army. Murphy was therefore intrigued when one man in the audience revealed he had emigrated to Scotland from Port Elizabeth. The man explained that he no longer sounded South African, but then slipped into his old accent when he added that he could “still talk a bit of yarpie”. The temptation for Murphy to show off his South African accent – or a smattering of Afrikaans – was almost overwhelming. It was resisted, however, with Murphy saying: “There are too many cameras here”.
Leadership hopeful kicks off with goal boast
Murphy’s obsession with football is well known. It was in evidence once more when he revealed that he had forgotten to take a pen to his press conference yesterday.
An audience member obliged him by throwing him one, which Murphy caught neatly in one hand.
“If this bid fails, I could get a job as a goalie,” Murphy quipped. Perhaps unfairly, Murphy later got one over his leadership rival Neil Findlay by boasting about his prowess at the other end of the pitch.
Findlay had been in goal for the MSPs XI when it played against the House of Commons team. With a little too much glee Murphy said that he had helped the MPs to victory by slotting a shot past Findlay’s despairing dive.
Standing reply cuts down on political phone bills
The etiquette of returning mobile phone messages has entered a new era in the past week if you are a Labour MSP or MP.
With the resignation of Johann Lamont (below) and Anas Sarwar as leader and deputy leader of the Scottish party respectively, their colleagues at Holyrood and in the Commons have had to put up with a lot of messages from journalists trying to figure out who is in the running to replace them.
When Labour politicians return calls from the fourth estate, small-talk has now largely gone out the window.
There is no more “How are you?” or “What can I do for you?”
The standard opener has become a rather weary: “No, I’m not standing.”