Christmas Is Cancelled, Says Murphy

14 December 2014, 07:02 | Updated: 15 December 2014, 07:11

Jim Murphy takes the helm of Scottish Labourjust five months before the next general election, and at a time when the SNP is seeing its support grow.

While Labour in Scotland is reported to have some 13,500 members, the SNP has enjoyed massive growth since the independence referendum, and now has more than 92,000 members.

Nationalist leaders have claimed there are now more members in the SNP's trade union wing than there are in the entire Scottish Labour Party.

Meanwhile in the independence referendum in September three of the four local authorities areas that returned Yes votes were in Labour heartland areas - Glasgow City Council, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire .

Labour has been out of power in Holyrood since 2007, and polls show the party trailing the nationalists in support for both Holyrood and Westminster elections.

A YouGov poll for the Scottish Sun put support for the SNP at 47%, 20 points ahead of Labour on 27%.

Such a result could see Labour lose 34 of its 41 Scottish MPs to Nicola Sturgeon's party in May, it was reported.

But winning a large number of Scottish seats will be crucial for Labour if Ed Miliband is to win the next general election and oust David Cameron from Downing Street.

Mr Murphy is undaunted, insisting under his leadership the party can retain all of its Scottish MPs.

''I'm confident that we will hold all that we have,'' he said.

A focus on social justice - both Mr Murphy and his new deputy Kezia Dugdale say tackling poverty and inequality will be a top priority - could help win back some voters.

While SNP support is strong, the party has tended not to perform as well in Westminster elections as it has at Holyrood, which uses proportional representation as well as first-past-the-post.

Mr Murphy said: ''I'm not daunted at all, I'm determined. I said at the beginning of this contest it is not a kamikaze mission. I know that we can win, I'm confident we will.

''All the easy things in life have already been done and in every election I've been in I've been the underdog.

''I know there is a huge amount of work to do in a really short period of time, I know that.''

But he added: ''I think we will improve these polls, these polls will turn around.

''Someone said to me the other day that polls are just predictions, but they're also there to be proven wrong. That's what I'm determined to do.''