Ian Murray compares Labour crisis to Hearts’ plight

Ian Murray speaks at Morningside Parish Church yesterday. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Ian Murray speaks at Morningside Parish Church yesterday. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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SHADOW Scottish secretary Ian Murray has said that Labour should “draw a real lesson” from Heart of Midlothian FC as he suggested the party’s plight was similar to that of the Edinburgh club when it faced near extinction.

Mr Murrray said the revival of newly promoted Hearts could serve as an inspiration to Scottish Labour which lost 40 of its 41 Westminster seats on 7 May to the SNP.

We can draw a real lesson from Hearts Football Club

Ian Murray MP

He said the turnaround in the fortunes of the Jambos was a model in building a community-based movement and how to find the “right path” after a crisis, as he talked about the experience of the supporters’ trust Foundation of Hearts.

Mr Murray, Scottish Labour’s last remaining MP, made the claim as he delivered his first keynote speech since he was appointed as the shadow cabinet lead on Scotland after the election.

The politician served as chair of the not-for-profit Foundation of Hearts which promoted the idea of fan ownership and successfully acquired the majority shareholding in the Tynecastle club after it suffered relegation from the Scottish Premier League and faced financial collapse with the threat of extinction.

Mr Murray said the grassroots movement associated with the club, which has won promotion back to the Premiership and is now widely viewed as more financially stable, could act as an example to Labour on how to relaunch itself with a new leadership team.

Ian Murray wears Hearts on his sleeve

He said: “I also think that we can draw a real lesson from what happened at Hearts Football Club – a living, breathing example of how that community based solution can work.

“And it also shows how you can take an organisation that has lost its way and set it on the right path again. They have always been innovative and driven change both within football and in the wider area, but they lost their way … within days of disappearing for ever.”

The Edinburgh South MP added: “The club was saved and revived not by a top-down solution, but by a large grassroots movement that pulled together.

“Thousands of supporters deciding that the way forward was for them to take charge of the situation. It saved the club but, much more importantly, changed the culture. A new, fresh leadership team, led by someone ingrained in the passion for the club, immediately setting a different direction.”

Mr Murray, in a speech to Labour supporters in Edinburgh, also said he would vote for Yvette Cooper in the UK Labour leadership election but that he had no objection to the left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn.

He said the party needed its first female leader, but he said he had “no problem” with Mr Corbyn who is now viewed as the favourite in the leadership race, ahead of Ms Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall.

Mr Murray, declaring his support for Inverness-born Ms Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said she was best-placed to lead the party after its defeat north and south of the Border.

He said: “At UK level I have been quite keen to ensure the debate carries on without me backing anyone, but I am backing Yvette Cooper for the next leader of the Labour party.

“The reason I am doing that is purely because I think Labour needs its first female prime minister. But I also think Yvette has a lot of understanding of the situation in Scotland.”