The SNP was right to reject Craig Murray as a Westminster candidate

The Craig Murray story is not really a story: Man applies for a job – gets interview – is rejected.  Unusually, it has a second part: Man has chance to appeal and does so – appeal confirms rejection.  The end.

Except it’s not the end.  This is an even more unusual job application non-story in that it has a third part: Scotland on Sunday (an avowedly British nationalist paper with a visceral dislike of anything SNP, which should make everyone pause to think about their motivation in highlighting this non-story) published details of the selection process, as did the applicant on his blog.

My initial reaction to this story last night was to tweet:

Murray seems to have lost sight of the role of an MP elected to Westminster: it is to (a) represent their constituents, following (b) the broad principles of the party under whose banner they were elected. Part (a) means representing people who voted for the MP, as well as those who did not. I will not be voting “Labour” or Tory at the next general election, but if either of their candidates wins, they have a responsibility to represent me as well. Part (b) means he needs to adhere to party discipline in order to achieve wider party purposes, something that will be especially important in the 2015 parliament.

Now, I’m not an SNP member, but it seems to me that their candidate selection process worked perfectly in this instance: it weeded out a candidate who made clear he would not adhere to party discipline, part (b).  He says:

I was asked at assessment whether, as part of a Westminster deal with another party, I would agree to vote for the bedroom tax if instructed by the Party. I replied “No.”

Of course, this was not inviting a binary Yes/No response, but a much more nuanced and thoughtful one (how about: “were the deal to include devo-max, and were mitigating funds to be made available for those in need, and were it to be just for the remainder of the financial year (etc. etc.)… then I would weigh this up and probably go with the party line”). It’s easy for me to say this from the comfort of my living room, of course: I’m not in the interview room.  But we need political representatives who can think fast and sensibly under pressure; he didn’t demonstrate an ability to do so and therefore failed the interview. And, of course, attacking the party after they chose not to select him as their candidate proves them right, as I said in my tweet. It is not a story.

However, I would hope that part (a) was also a factor in the SNP’s selection process, even if Murray or the SNP don’t mention it explicitly.  Without qualification, let me state that I think Murray is wholly unsuited as a party MP.  How can he possibly represent more than a relatively small group of Yes voters since he regards up to 55% of his potential constituents as ‘thick’ or ‘evil’, ‘the majority of them stupid beyond my understanding’, and people he has no desire to connect with:

But those No voters who voted No because they believed a fair and caring society was achievable within the present structures of the UK, are so stupid I am astonished that their cerebral cortex can transmit a signal that sparks respiration. They are probably not capable of ever noticing their error.

I am not going to reach out to you, No voter. You are either evil, or quite extraordinarily thick. You will forever be a long way beneath my notice. This will be the last thought I ever give you.

I regard these comments as totally unacceptable: all of these comments are from a single blog posting on his site, written when ill and shortly after the disappointment of the referendum.  Many of us who voted Yes were disappointed and perhaps angry at the outcome, particularly at the negative way in which it was achieved, but we did not publish such ill-considered and condemnatory rants.  If Murray can’t restrain his vitriol when something important doesn’t go the way he wants, and can’t respond appropriately to the ‘bedroom tax’ question, then the SNP is quite right to reject him as their candidate.  Their selection process clearly works.

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Three more brief comments:

  1. The ‘bedroom tax’ question that Murray thinks did for him at his interview was not (as some foolish and desperate unionists want to pretend) an indication that the SNP are considering an alliance with the Tories (duh, what did Nicola Sturgeon say about this?), but was simply about presenting an extreme scenario to test his commitment to group discipline. How he can possibly know that there was ‘no corresponding question designed to test the loyalty of right wing people’ is a mystery to me – presumably he wasn’t at other candidates’ interviews? James Kelly is worth really reading on this.
  2. There are other serious problems with Murray’s position on certain issues, such as naming alleged rape victims in the Julian Assange case. Sunny Hundal expanded on some of the problems with the way he did that.
  3. None of this is to detract from the important role that Murray played in highlighting “Labour’s” complicity in horrific human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, and he is entirely correct in wanting people like Tony Blair and Jack Straw prosecuted for this.
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13 thoughts on “The SNP was right to reject Craig Murray as a Westminster candidate

  1. As ex Labour I am saddened that Craig won’t be considered as an MP,he was highly popular especially by ex Labour folk and I am not alone in liking this principled,honest man. I left Labour because they dictated what they wanted,not what voters wanted….now I’ve joined SNP, is it same?

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    • Lisa, as far as I am aware, SNP policy is decided at conference so the membership (that’s you) decides what the policies are, so NO, not the same. As for Craig, I too am disappointed that he failed the selection process but an RIC candidate asked the same question and gave the same answer but was approved, so there is much more to this that Craig thinks there is.

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      • Lisa, Scott – thanks for taking the time to comment.
        It is worth noting that there are a number of new members who have successfully completed the vetting process. I don’t have a list of names, but there are definitely a number. I’m sure this will become more apparent as all constituency branches complete their selection processes.

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  2. To be fair I agree with a lot of Craig’s sentiment, and personally I was thrilled to find a public figure who firmly pointed out that supporters of the union are either stupid or wicked, or both, as this is a belief I strongly share. In even some of his harshest comments I support him fully and I admire him for having the guts, considering his past career, to come out and say these things as he does. Craig Murray has had real experience of British foreign policy and his controversial comments come in light of this experience. I can only hope that his words will help to make British Unionism a view that is as frowned upon as racism, or as military aggression, which it inherently supports.

    That said, I certainly didn’t think he would make a good SNP candidate, and I agree fully with the SNP not giving him the job, because he is too controversial for mainstream politics. The Yes campaign has been a hugely positive campaign, and it is something which the SNP should stock with, and while these views of Murrays and mine are too negative to fit in with the SNP I sincerely hope his sentiments continue to be voiced in the public domain, as while I think its a bad idea for the SNP to tarnish itself with such negativity and anger, having both the carrot and the stick will help to shepherd our shared vision of an independent Scotland forward.

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  3. He may not be a suitable candidate as decided but I do question the point about the so called ‘Bedroom Tax’. I would have thought that his answer would have been acceptable since my recollection is that the SNP are opposed to this ridiculous and unfair tax. Perhaps someone can manage to explain this to me. I am an SNP supporter!

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      I gather that there are other candidates who said ‘No’ in response to this question who were successful in their candidacy. Note that it is Murray’s interpretation that it was this that caused him to be rejected.

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    • Kenneth

      Correct – the SNP are utterely opposed to the Bedroom Tax. This question was a ‘moral dilemma’ interview question. I was vetted and was asked the same question.

      Unexpected moral dilemma questions are common in interview situations particularly for more senior roles. The more difficult the question the more effective it is. These questions never have a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. Sometimes they don’t have a correct answer at all. The point is to test how the candidate thinks on their feet in response to the most awkward possible theoretical question, and how they justify their response to the panel.

      http://www.everydayinterviewtips.com/tough-interview-question-describe-a-time-you-faced-an-ethical-dilemma/

      Once a hopeful has been successfully vetted, he or she would then have had to be nominated for a constituency by a branch, or by 10 individual members. Just like every other prospective hopeful. Then, and ONLY then, hopefuls are voted on by the membership to see who will be selected as candidate. Had this particular candidate passed all three hurdles I don’t think I would have voted for him, on the basis that his blog entries hurling abuse at No voters is exactly the wrong approach. And also because, all other things being equal, I would prefer a candidate with genuine connections to the constituency.

      Everything that has happened since this went public confirms to me that the vetting panel were correct not to accept this candidate. Electoral politics is a collective business and no single person is bigger than the movement. Man is interviewed for job. Man fails interview. The end.

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      • Thanks Derick for your reply. As you will see from my original post I did say he may not be a suitable candidate but I don’t believe his response to the ‘Bedroom Tax’ question should have been reported as a reason for turning down his application. If this was a reason then I disagree. Stick to what we believe irrespective of circumstances and Labour will go down the drain. more seats will be gained in Westminster and independence will be just around the corner.

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        • I think it’s important to note that it was Murray himself who said the Bedroom Tax question was the ONLY thing that did for his candidacy. That’s not what the SNP letter to him said at all.

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  4. I think the whole point of the question is to define just how much of a team player you really are. If you can’t make even your subordinates back policy change when the wider implications are beneficial to the party as a whole, then you just end up being supported by a bunch of maverics who’s personal agendas could make implementing anything near impossible.

    As it stands, with the publicity that Craig Murray has received in recent months he could easily become a target for hostile journalism and from what I’ve seen of the man he’s not particularly agile in fielding off the cuff questions.

    I do see the advantages to having someone with his experience in the party but from his blog alone he is acting like a petulant child, and I for one don’t need childish politicians representing me.

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