two rival parties who sound as if they are fighting on almost exactly the same political territory
I disagree. I don’t see Jim Murphy as an “immediate problem for the SNP”. Even if Iain Macwhirter isn’t overstating the power of Murphy’s “personality and charisma” – which I strongly suspect he is – there is still the all important matter of trust. Sure! Murphy talks the talk. But who is going to believe he walks the walk?
There was a time when Blair-style posing and posturing might have been sufficient to sway voters in Scotland. But things have changed. The carefully cultivated smiling charm (or smarm) is considerably less likely to impress now than once it might – even if deployed by a more convincing practitioner than Murph The Malevolent.
Likewise, the cunningly crafted political message might once have been enough to convince people that the sentiment and intent behind the words was genuine. But experience of the distortions, deceits and downright dishonesty of the anti-independence propaganda effort has left people much more reluctant to accept anything that any British politician says. The more so when the British politician in question has Murphy’s unappealing track record.
Supposing it is true that we have “two rival parties who sound as if they are fighting on almost exactly the same political territory” surely this means that people will be obliged to choose between them on the issue of trust. And when choices are reduced to a matter of trust, surely the SNP has a distinct edge.
There is no “New Jim”. There is just the same nasty, conniving, opportunistic, self-serving career politician that there always has been with a transparently thin veneer of social democratic disguise. Murphy’s mendacious message might make an impression on traditional Labour voters looking for any excuse to slip back into their comfortably familiar old voting habits. Most people will be protected by a shield of healthy scepticism.
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