Jim Murphy’s Thatcherite chief of staff


By Martin Thomas

The new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy, has appointed John McTernan as his “chief of staff”.

Read on, then, for this excerpt from the Morning Star (6 March) which tells you what you need to know about McTernan.

McTernan was speaking at a breakfast meeting at the conference for Policy Exchange, a Tory-leaning think tank. The whole event was paid for by the Stock Exchange.

McTernan poured praise on Thatcher. He said: “She changed the economic structure for good. As in forever. But also for good. It’s a good thing she did what she did.”

His only complaint was Thatcher didn’t convince enough people and that “she didn’t sell what she was doing” enough.

McTernan told the Tories that he was an enthusiast for privatisation.

He told delegates: “There’s a far wider range of assets that are currently owned by the government which I would privatise. I would have privatised London Underground if I could have done.”

McTernan was really worried that people didn’t trust business enough.

He said: “We are in a really difficult situation” because a poll showed that “half the population think that the greatest threat to Britain and the future of Britain is big business” while only 19 per cent thought trade unions were a problem.

Instead of being happy with the popular sentiments, McTernan thought this was bad, because he himself was “very relaxed about capitalism,” so he was bothered that anyone else was uptight about corporations.

McTernan thought it especially worrying that 45 per cent of Scots voted Yes to independence even when “the banks said they would leave Scotland if it became independent.”

McTernan also offered his “advice to the Tory Party.”

He suggested the Conservatives should not “let the Labour Party own equality and inequality.”

He said the Tories should say “they (Labour) can’t manage the economy, they’ve shown that. Why would you trust them to manage inequality?”

From 2004 to 2005 McTernan was a special adviser in Tony Blair’s No. 10 Policy Unit. He was Political Secretary/Director of Political Operations at 10 Downing Street for Tony Blair from 2005–2007.

He was the director of communications for the Australian Labor prime minister, Julia Gillard, from September 2011 to June 2013.