by Stephen Tall on September 20, 2014
Labour MP for East Renfrewshire
Reason: for taking his ‘No Thanks’ message to the people
The Scottish independence referendum campaign is over (at least for a few years), rejected decisively 55%-45%, albeit more narrowly than Westminster’s politicians anticipated when they agreed to it.
The campaign itself has not always been edifying. There was, for instance, the second televised debate which descended into an inaudible shouting match (mostly owing to Alex Salmond’s hectoring). More sinisterly, a YouGov poll found that 46 per cent of No supporters and 24 per cent of Yes supporters felt personally threatened by the opposing side’s campaign during the referendum.
But there have been bright spots too and I’m going to highlight one: Jim Murphy, the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire, whose ‘100 streets in 100 days’ soapbox tour of Scotland was probably the most energetic part of the Better Together campaign. It wasn’t his message that I found especially heroic – I’m an agnostic on Scottish independence – but the manner of his crusade.
““It has been real people from all sides of the debate having passionate discussions. It works best when there is genuine disagreement and heated questioning,” he commented. Though it was disrupted by Yes Scotland heckles and sometimes eggs – forcing Murphy at one point to suspend the tour on police advice – he saw it through. He showed leadership, genuine engagement with the public and not a little bravery. That’s why he’s my choice for this week’s Liberal Hero.
* The ‘Liberal Heroes of the Week’ (and occasional ‘Liberal Villains’) series showcases those who promote any of the four liberal tenets identified in The Orange Book — economic, personal, political and social liberalism — regardless of party affiliation and from beyond Westminster. If they stick up for liberalism in some way then they’re in contention. If they confound liberalism they may be named Villains. You can view our complete list of heroes and villains here. Nominations are welcome via email or Twitter.