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INSIDE TRACK: Labour now realise a major shake-up is required

BEYOND the obvious theatre of Monday night's Salmond versus Darling debate there has been one tangible outcome - Labour types are talking again.

About the party's political future after their expected No vote. And the same names and themes are cropping up.

Away from the media spin room on Monday night and the "Darling's won" brave faces, Labour chums were a tad more candid. They were thumped. Moreso, the Kelvingrove ramifications may not be on September 18 but the back-to-back elections of 2015 and 2016, where the ghosts of current alliances will loom large and a new deck of cards, not some shuffling, may be required to prevent successive "doings" in the ballot box.

"Darling blurring the lines between Better Together and Labour did no-one any longer-term favours there," said one.

Winning the vote but not the arguments? "Exactly," said another.

A colleague recently reported that senior Labour powerbrokers wanted Jim Murphy MP to lead the party in Scotland, amid claims Johann Lamont will only be a caretaker leader. Although reluctant, the shadow international development secretary considered it.

Three times this week I've heard of a reconsideration from within Labour.

"What do you think Murphy's one-man soap box tour is about?", said one. "He doesn't have to do this. Guaranteed coverage every day, getting out there around the country. The eyes are on what the next move might be."

Is there anywhere he could go? According to one source, a prominent MSP not too far from Murphy's stomping ground might want to go in 2016. Ready-made vacancy. Another believes an MSP with a constituency by the sea could find himself in the House of Lords, creating an opening for Murphy where the challenge might be weak.

Others could also make the switch north, goes the chatter. In the past decade an educated, urban "hipster" class has deserted Labour. The Yes badges in the coffee shops just make it more pronounced. Can they be won back?

"You could see Gregg McClymontt come north. He's another name mentioned", said one party insider.

The shadow minister for pensions and Cumbernauld MP is intelligent and untainted by connotations of the Labour machine in the west of Scotland (even though he did work for John Reid). The type of Labour MP the urban middle-classes would have flocked to in 1997, Mr McClymontt is, I'm also reminded, one of many within the party not to personally hook up to Better Together.

And of course, there's Scottish deputy leader Scotland Anas Sarwar. Power struggle talk is back in the mix.

And then there's my own patch around Glasgow City Council. It's now simmering. One scenario sees one pugilistic MP made a peer to create a vacancy for council leader Gordon Matheson. Cue a bun fight of old.

OK, it's just chat, sources, gossip even. But the fact they're talking, amid regular pledges to "reconnect to our support", suggests some feel the sticking plaster the referendum has provided for Scottish Labour will soon be yanked off.

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Local government

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