Today the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and celebrity Labour supporter Eddie Izzard are doing a quickfire tour of Glasgow, which means that Murphy is doing the same thing he’s done all throughout this long, tiresome campaign of standing speaking to nobody with a few dead eyed Labour activists standing behind him waving some cards with Labour’s key pledges on them, apart from the one on immigration of course.Around him are reporters framing it so it looks like a huge crowd behind him and that Murphy is speaking to a load of people but in reality they look like this.
Thanks to Izzard, the media scrum today is much larger so Murphy is sprinting across Glasgow speaking in parts of the city to a handful of people at best, but as with most of Labour’s campaigning it’s tightly organised in such a way it looks a certain way on the television. These set up appearances are pretty tedious but earlier it all kicked off as Murphy and Izzard had to abandon campaigning due to ‘Nationalists’ heckling him down.
As it turns out the people doing the heckling were Sean Clerkin’s group, a socialist bunch of activists not affiliated in any way with the SNP. Clerkin is a familiar face to Murphy as he’s heckled him before and there’s hardly a crowd as this Tweet from Channel 4 News journalist Alex Thompson shows.
Murphy and Izzard have also been in Argyle Street with reports of being ‘shouted down’ but this is what the scrum actually looks like.
Now tonight on the TV news it’s going to look as if there were riots on the streets of Glasgow but the reality is that Murphy is using the actions of a handful of loudmouth tossers who’ve heckled him before to manufacture a situation to make him look as if his ‘free speech’ is being denied. For one, that isn’t even remotely true and this isn’t a free speech issue anyhow, nor are the protests violent.
Murphy can deal with rowdy crowds as seen here.
So as much as shouting anyone down is arseholeish (ironic considering Murphy’s own shouting down of opponents in the televised debates) there’s a narrative Murphy and Labour are trying to create for tonight’s news and for the sake of democracy, that narrative needs to be seriously questioned as it looks as if it isn’t going to reflect the events of today accurately at all.
EDITED TO ADD:
Wings Over Scotland have made this post that fills in a lot more detail and also asks the same questions. It’s almost certainly looking as this entire thing is manufactured by Labour to create headlines.