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Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale win the election but not the popular vote

Jim Murphy accepting the Scottish leadershipThe media and the bookies predicted a Murphy and Dugdale victory and that is what they eventually got, by a margin that, on the surface at least, looked comfortable. What they appear not to have won is the popular vote – I say appear because no figures have been released on actual numbers voting nor even turnout – but I shall justify my claim below.

It is of course a very disappointing result for those of us who see Jim Murphy as part of the problem rather than as the solution, but it is nevertheless a result for which Neil Findlay deserve credit. The result shows above all, how unrepresentative of the Scottish labour movement their elected representatives have become after two decades of the corrupt manipulation of selections under New Labour – we unfortunately know polls what regard they are held in by the electorate. It was in this section where the 79 parliamentarians who voted each had a vote worth as much as those cast by over 120 party members or 250 trade union levy payers. And it was their shortfall in this section which Neil and Katy always had to make up in the trade union and individual members’ sections.

The detailed results are as follows:

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Section 1 Section 2
Section 3
Sarah Boyack 4.22% 2.30% 2.73% 9.24%
Neil Findlay 6.75% 10.89% 17.34% 34.99%
Jim Murphy 22.36% 20.14% 13.26% 55.77%
Jim Murphy elected

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Section 1 Section 2 Section 3
Katy Clark  4.70% 11.22% 21.20% 37.1%
Kezia Dugdale  28.63%  22.11% 12.13% 62.9%
Kezia Dugdale elected
Section 1: Parliamentarians
Section 2: Individual Scottish Labour Party members
Section 3: Individual members of affiliated organisations

It is worth comparing the votes for Neil and Katy in the trade union and individual members’ sections with those for Johann Lamont who won in 2011 against two right-wing candidates, winning 12.18% and 21.81% in these sections respectively. Katy fell short by small margins — in the individual members section by 1% and 0.6% in the trade unions (note for ease of comparison I am comparing the figures in the results table which are percentages of the electoral college, not of that section). Not much considering Johann was seen as centre-left wheras Neil and Katy are clearly on the left. Neil was further behind, 1.3% in the individual members section (hardly surprising given the presence of a centrist candidate in Sarah Boyack) and a more significant 4.5% in the union section.

Some on the right will argue that this last figure shows the trade union leadership to be out of step with their members. I disagree. Their recommendation received majority backing and I absolutely defend trade unions whose very existence is about collective interests and collective action making recommendations on political issues as they do on industrial issues. In my view it shows what was essentially a fairy disciplined slate vote – most unions and individual campaigners campaigned for both Neil and Katy – where one of the two faced an extra challenger and a main challenger who started with a massive advantage in terms of public profile. That is likely to count even more in the trade union section.

The justification for saying that Murphy and Dugdale have not won the popular vote is as follows: I take the Scottish party membership entitled to vote as 13,500 (a figure higher than that for 2010 which is in the public domain) and assume a turnout of 71% (equal to the turnout in the last UK leadership election by individual members but significantly higher than the number who voted in the 2011 Scottish leadership election. I take the trade union members entitled to vote as 230,000, turnout (as I am advised by the trade unions themselves) as 10%, and the number of spoilt ballot paper as 15% (in line with the last UK leadership election). This means that trade union votes outnumber those of individual members by about 2 to 1.

Using the proportions from the results table, you can derive the following estimate of the popular vote (i.e. that which would have been the result if these had been an OMOV election involving party members and union levy payers):

Sarah Boyack  2,263 (8%)
Neil Findlay    13,301 (46%)
Jim Murphy    13,568 (47%)

Katy Clark        15,660 (54%)
Kezia Dugdale  13,471 (46%)

This estimate is little consolation to the supporters of Neil and Katy. The electoral college was the system used. The real voting figures are withheld partly to prevent people doing this exercise but more importantly because of the party’s sheer embarrassment about how tiny the Scottish membership is. The trade union group of SNP members is, I am reliably informed, roughly the same size as Scottish Labour’s entire membership.

The question now is what happens next. Today’s YouGov poll in the Sun (£) puts the SNP twenty points ahead (47-27) which would, it estimates, leave Labour with just 7 Scottish MPs. Yesterday’s LabourList revealed that its reader survey shows that 57% believe Labour will lose at least 11 seats, the median estimate being around 15. Jim Murphy has his work cut out. He has talked leftish during the campaign, promised inclusivity. We shall see. We won’t be holding our breath.

And how will the unions respond to a Murphy win, having put such great energy into Neil and Katy’s campaign? It is too early to say. Pat Rafferty, Unite‘s Scottish Secretary, said after Murphy’s victory was announced:

Unite was proud to support Neil and his share of the vote is enough to show his popular policies have resonance among working people in Scotland. Arguably, Jim Murphy recognised this appetite for real change during the hustings, because as the campaign progressed his arguments became bolder on issues like taxation and a living wage. Jim now needs to turn words into action if he wants to start the process of re-building Scottish Labour.

Considering Jim Murphy’s own involvement in stoking the Falkirk row that never should have happened, that seems magnanimous. There has also, however, been talk by some within Unite Scotland of arguing in the run up to next years Unite Rules revision conference that Unite should allow its Scotland region at least the option of not affiliating to Scottish Labour. Others would go further as is hardly surprising when the majority of Unite members in Scotland are, according to poll evidence, planning to vote SNP next year. Things are bound to get tougher for Labour in the unions and this is not a process that union leaders or politicians can control.

It would be surprising if Jim Murphy didn’t give early indication of the way he plans to take the Scottish party. On past experience, expect much to happen by diktat, no meaningful consultation with the membership or trade unions about policy or party structures, and rapid moves to reduce party democracy, centralise power ever more in the Scottish Leader’s office. I trust him at his word about keeping Ed Miliband at a distance – but I hope that Ed takes action to improve his intelligence about what’s happening in Scotland in the future.


  1. James Martin says:

    The key element in terms of the future are those looming elections where it is hard to see how someone like Murphy will win back working class voters who intend to vote SNP. I expect unity from both Party members and the unions up to that point, but afterwards who knows? If you link this Scottish situation to the rumblings from unions like Unite across the country that they will re-examine the link if Labour lose the next general election then we are possibly moving towards significant developments as the putrid puss of Blair’s New Labour legacy continues to weaken us.

    1. Robert says:

      The GMB have said they will now accept a vote on disaffiliation which they have refused us for years, I think i6t will be close but I think the GMB will go, UNITE well that up to them.

      I suspect the labour party gets back in Progress will be pushing for state funding it would love that.

  2. swatantra says:

    Lets hope that Murphy and Findlay now bury the hatchet … and not in each other. The better candidate with the wider experience won. Jim had been the Scottish Secretary and so has a wider picture of where Scotland stands in the nature of things, and not just as a remote branch office up North. Lets see OMOV being introduced in future and not the corrupt Electoral College. And lets see Jim stealing most of the SNP clothes and dressing them up as Labour, so that we can get those Labour Scots back again, because in all probability Scotland is going to be Independent in 5 years time anyway, so Labour had better brace itself for the event instead of playing catch up, which it has being doing at local regional and national level for the past 30 years.

    1. Frances says:

      Steal SNP clothes and dress them up as Labour? Have Labour no policies of their own? How dishonest is that idea? Thank God I left Labour! No morals, no policies

      1. Robert says:

        Stealing the policies of another party is not the Tories bad enough. has labour no policies of their own.

  3. John reid says:

    Unite threatened to withdrawl money if their choice didn’t win, I don’t know or care, if they do, but,they have a view, they’ll lose influence of the left of the party by doing this, I can’t see them backing a different party, either

    1. Robert says:

      That’s so funny.

      1. John reid says:

        Their empty threat was a bluff,I must admit i did secretly smirk,but wouldn’t gloat about it.

  4. Rod says:

    Not winning the popular vote is scant consolation.

    The reality is that the a swivel-eyed, military interventionist Blairite has won and he will rub the Left’s nose in their defeat.

    Never mind. No point in quibbling, just focus on campaigning for a Labour victory in 2015 and 2016… Eh, Jon?

  5. Barry Ewart says:

    Perhaps Labour via OMOV needs to give policy making back to conference. We could also draw up a list of Parliamentary Candidates (sorry those in safe Labour seats) rated out of 10 by every member on their personal manifestos – the overall highest scorers topping the lists. We could have lists that are proportional re class (occupation of parent(s)) gender (50:50 male female), ethinic minority, disabled, LGBT all of whiich teflects the population with those with the highest ratings topping the lists. I would vote in every category for left democratic socialists – we can do it, WE CAN- please pass the smelling salts to the middle class careerists! But then again I am not a politician I am a democratic socialist. To demonstrate this fact I say COMPENSATE ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SUFFERED UNDER THE BEDROOM TAX! Good to see the trade unons backed Findlay/ Clark! Yours in solidarity!

  6. Neil says:

    How anyone in the Labour Party can support Jim Murphy is beyond me, Scottish Labour needs to go back to their roots, if they want to get the working class of Scotland voting for them again, this new leader is going to take them further to the right, bad move.

  7. P Spence says:

    Party membership: SNP 92k; Labour 13.5k; Tories 11k; LD 2.8k. That tells you all you need to know. The equivalent, if SNP was a UK party would put its membership at 1 million: that’s a mass movement. That’s what Labour once was and needs to be again.

    1. Robert says:

      Not likely is it Labour is not labour any more the vast majority are not Progress.

  8. Ian Leggat says:

    Pat Rafferty is holding out the olive branch- but can the leopard change it’s spots? A good place for Mr Murphy to start would be to call for the scrapping of Trident.

  9. swatantra says:

    Jim says hes not taking orders from no one.Not Milliband. Not the Unions. Good start. Start as you mean to go on. Good man.

    1. James Martin says:

      No, it is reactionary nationalist nonsense. Shall we also applaud if the Birmingham CLP declared that it was no longer taking any notice of the wider Party? Or Merseyside? Or what about London?

      I notice Murphy also put a tartan biscuit tin on his head by way of a crown during his speech when he said of ‘Scottish values’ “It was there before our party in the ethics of Burns’ poetry, the economic vision of New Lanark, the actions of the Highlanders who took on brutal landlords. A belief that we stand together, look after those who need our help, and make sure that everyone gets a fair shout.” Well yes, the Highland Clearances were carried out by Scottish landlords and clan chiefs, and socialists everywhere want people to have ‘a fair shout’ (although actually genuine socialists want far more than that as shouting does not redistribute wealth). He cannot outdo reactionary SNP nationalist twaddle, so why is he trying?

  10. eric joyce says:

    Many levy-payers are party members too and most party members are also union members. You’re counting as if everyone had one vote so your ‘popular vote’ numbers are bollocks, surely?

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Many party members are retired, students, unemployed, or members of non-affiliated unions but I accept that there are some who would also have voted as trade union levy payers so there is some double-counting. However, I see no reason why this should distort the relative support for any particular candidate so even if my estimate of the numbers of the popular vote are somewhat inflated, the proportions should be unaffected. This is only an attempt to estimate what would have happened under OMOV – do by all means suggest a better methodology!

  11. Jim Murphy’s parents’ move to South Africa in 1979 can only have been a political act. A lot of people were made redundant and did not move to the apartheid state.

    Specifically, they wound up in the Western Cape, and they seem to have had something to do with Robben Island while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there. In any event, it is worth looking into exactly what they were doing under P W Botha.

    It is also worth looking into exactly what their son was doing under P W Botha. He was there between the ages of 12 and 18.

    Culturally speaking, he is more than anything a 1980s white South African, and one raised in a home that had been set up specifically in order to avail itself of the opportunities presented by that order.

    The age of conscription into the South African Defence Force was 16, or when you left school, whichever happened later.

    Murphy’s subsequent nine years at university without ever taking a degree indicate that he has never been much of an academic shining light. He turned 16 in 1983.

    Had the apartheid regime still existed in 1994 (when it was not long gone), then some sort of rapprochement with it would have been integral to Tony Blair’s “modernisation” project.

    If there was one thing on which Old Labour was united, then it was opposition to apartheid. But the Thatcherite press expressed a very different view. Guess which line Blair would have taken.

    Moreover, from September 2001 onwards, apartheid South Africa would have met every criterion, and surpassed most or all of them, for classification as a key “partner” in “The War Against Terror”, which my erstwhile housemate who is now the Labour Party’s Head of Research used in those days to say ought to be known by its acronym.

    And now, look who is Blairism’s de facto Leader on these shores, at least pending the extradition of David Miliband to answer torture-related charges.

    1. History in time says:

      Clutching at straws Jon. For better or worse the Left lost this one.

      ….And David Lindsay’s appalling smear? Really.

      Actually I left the UK in 1979 and anyone who had the chance and didn’t was stone mad not too. Like Johnny Rotten said,…No Future, unless you were going to Magdalen or something.

  12. David Ellis says:

    Murphy’s election shows that the Scottish Labour Party has been hollowed out and he represents nought but a self-serving bureaucracy that rests on nothing not even a working class reduced to passive voting fodder and membership. His election shows that Scottish Labour have decided to be the Scottish UKIP rather than the socialist SNP.

    If there is any sort of left remaining in the trades unions and Scottish Labour then they should immediately embrace independence and federalism and put forward a programme for the transition to working class power and socialism that can re-unify the Scottish working class.

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