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.
Three more brief comments:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.