Jim Murphy has scored another own goal with a bizarre policy pledge that is backfiring on him not only among opposition Scots and English voters, but has sparked vocal opposition from within his own party. Red right-winger Murphy claimed to be using a proposed Labour mansion tax to fund new nurses in Scotland. In a speech at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth, Murphy said:

We will support the NHS and nurses and use the money from a UK mansion tax to fund an additional 1,000 NHS nurses in Scotland over and above the SNP plans that we inherit.”

95% of that tax will be levied in the South East of the UK but its benefit will be felt across the UK.”

Perhaps there was something particularly apt at Jim Murphy holding his first major speech since become Scottish branch leader at Dynamic Earth. The thrice-daily dinosaur shows featuring a 125 million-year-old Stegosaurus brought memories of Johann Lamont’s parting gesture as ‘leader’ when she referred to her Westminster colleagues as ‘dinosaurs’. Murphy’s referendum street tour was seen as positioning for Lamont’s job and perhaps it was this particular carnivorous animal that Johann should have been wary of.

Here are 10 points around the Murphy policy announcement that are worth noting.

  • Jim Murphy does not have any power to implement Labour policy, as he is merely a branch leader and in the particular case of health, this is devolved power to the Scottish Parliament.
  • When asked if Miliband had approved the ‘policy’, Murphy said: “I didn’t ask him, I have no idea. I am sure he probably will.”
  • Last September Ed Miliband already announced that the proceeds of a mansion tax would go towards helping to fund 20,000 new nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new home-care workers and 3,000 new midwives across the UK.
  • Jim Murphy is merely rehashing his leaders pledge in a sleekit way to convince Scots he has some kind of power and autonomy over Labour policy, which he has not.
  • Jim Murphy is pledging cash that hasn’t even been raised yet.
  • Jim Murphy says the SNP government cut nurse numbers; Scottish nurse + midwives 2007: 57,049 and 2014: 58,407
  • In fact, Murphy is not doing anything, changing anything or implementing anything. The mansion tax is a UK wide tax and Scotland gets it’s cut off these taxes through the existing Barnett Formula and of course, the vast majority of the money stays in England and the South East especially.
  • He has caused chaos with voters across England and the South East who wrongly believe they will now subsidise Scottish nurses
  • Murphy has pledged to fun 1,000 more nurses that the SNP without ay clue and regardless as to what this number might be.
  • Murphy strangely accused the SNP of being ‘in a panic’ over his nurses/mansion tax ‘policy’.

Following the embarrassing gaffs in his speech, he may well wish he could benefit from Our Dynamic Earth’s time machine feature and go back and do it all again. During the speech Blairite Murphy said:

We now live in a world where dramatic, confusing change is the expectation rather than the exception.”

It appears though, the confusion was all of Jim’s own doing although this has indeed became an expectation rather than the exception with the Scottish branch leader.

In an embarrassing Radio spat, on todays World At One, things only got worse for Jim as fellow Labour MP Diane Abbott (getting his name wrong) let rip with an accusatory salvo:

Jim Murphy is jumping the gun in a highly unscrupulous way”

by claiming mansion tax money would go to Scotland. I am very surprised John [Jim] Murphy is making these boasts”

Well Diane, there is an old Scottish expression ‘a boaster and a liar are near akin’. She went on to accuse her Labour colleague of thinking:

He can buy Scottish votes with money expropriated from London”

Either Abbot also has a poor understanding of existing Labour policy and how the Barnett Formula works, or one may be forgiven for having the suspicion that the whole thing was contrived to show Murphy fighting against London Labour for Scotland. Good try Jim, but a great boaster is rarely a good performer.

As predicted back in October, the new Labour leadership for their Scottish branch would be an early Christmas present for the independence campaign. The Trident loving John [Jim] Murphy suddenly looks 1,001% more of a disaster for London Labour’s Scottish branch ‘in real terms’ than he did just 48 hours ago. Who will he annoy next? What was that you said about school dinners Jim? Now where’s that time machine?