SCOTTISH Labour leader Jim Murphy insists the party can still get “back into the contest” in Scotland ahead of the May election and reverse its “bloody awful” poll ratings.
The East Renfrewshire MP insists the party can stem the SNP tide by focussing on the NHS after midweek polling suggested the Nationalists could be on course to take more than 50 of Scotland’s 59 seats in two months time.
“The poll was bloody awful for Labour”Jim Murphy
He was speaking as Labour prepares to gather for a special one-day conference in Edinburgh tomorrow which will be addressed by UK leader Ed Miliband.
“The poll was bloody awful for Labour,” Mr Murphy told BBC Radio Scotland today.
“The way Labour gets back into this contest and the way in which we win the election isn’t a perpetual competition over what happens after the election.
“It’s about talking to people’s lives now, today - the fact that so many mums and dads who go to work can’t afford to balance the books and feed their kids and put money by for a rainy day.”
He added: “The biggest issue for Scots is the National Health Service.”
“If David Cameron cuts UK spending even deeper it has a massive effect on Scotland because of the way the funding system works. We all know that.”
The Scottish Labour leader said the mansion tax on homes worth over £2 million, which largely mean London and the South-East of England, will benefit Scotland.
“We will use that money to fund Scotland’s NHS and the first thing we’ll do is introduce 1000 more nurses in Scotland.”
Mr Murphy also dismissed the prospect of a “grand coalition” after the election involving Labour and the Conservatives as “nonsense” after it was suggested by his colleague Gisela Stewart.
“Gisela is talking nonsense,” he added.
“It’s a silly idea from a member of parliament in Birmingham who doesn’t really mean it - it was throwaway comment and that’s not going to happen.”
But Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson urged Mr Murphy to stop “stealing” her policies after he recently announced plans to bring back alcohol at football and recruit 1000 extra nurses.
“Unfortunately, voters will see straight through that plagiarism,” she said.
“This weekend’s an opportunity for Mr Murphy to put his new team to work and actually come up with something imaginative and original, even if it’s unlikely to be economically viable.”
And Nationalist backbencher Bob Doris said polls show the SNP is the party “most trusted” with the NHS in Scotland.
“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear that SNP MPs in a hung Parliament will use their clout to protect our health budget from Westminster’s agenda of austerity, patient charging and privatisation,” he said.
“Every SNP vote is a vote for a party that only has one key goal - to best represent the people of Scotland. So the more SNP seats there are, the more we’ll be able to ensure that Westminster does not lose sight of the things that are most important - starting with the NHS.”