Since Labour's humiliating defeat in May in Scotland and Iain Gray's announcement that he will be standing down 'later in the year' the grapevine has been hard at work with the MSM attempting to forecast who will be the new leader of Labour's MSPs.
For some weeks now the Scottish press have been hinting an MP could take the position as it's not necessary for a leader to be a member of the Scottish Parliament. Alex Salmond, when elected leader of the SNP - second time around - stayed as an MP until the next Scottish parliament elections and his decision caused few, if any, problems within his party. Of course he ran for the leadership on a joint ticket with Nicola Sturgeon who then had the opportunity to show her skills and effectiveness as a senior politician. She was first-class in that role and continues to be so as Alex Salmond's deputy.
Yesterday the Herald stated Jim Murphy had been approached by his fellow Labour MPs to become Labour's leader in Scotland and in due course stand for Holyrood. There could be slightly more than a grain of truth in this because Labour in Scotland are in dire need of a high-profiled leader and they have nobody within their MSP ranks.
Jim Murphy's comment shows he may well be giving the proposal consideration:
“I have set my sights on trying to be a Cabinet minister in the next Labour Government and that’s all I am focused on.”
As shadow Defence Secretary at Westminster he's more or less invisible and he doesn't appear comfortable in the role.
Would he take up the baton which includes a rather large drop in salary? He has four years until his party has any chance of being re-elected at Westminster and five years to wait for the next Scottish parliamentary elections if he chooses to change course and become an MSP. There are other ways such as by-elections but these may be few and far between.
Apart from Scottish Labour's need to totally restructure there's another problem facing Labour if Jim Murphy, or any MP for that matter, choses to lead by proxy. Who would be his deputy? Labour has little talent on its benches at Holyrood and if the MSPs were to be led by an absent leader, the deputy would require to be a strong, effective voice.
If I recall correctly, last week at FMQs Alex Salmond paid tribute to Iain Gray as leader of Holyrood's MSPs. Iain Gray responded by saying (I'm paraphrasing): "I haven't gone yet." Would he be the man Labour would choose to keep Jim Murphy's seat warm? Allan Massie certainly thinks Iain Gray deserves another chance at the leadership and not as anyone's deputy.