More pressure on Jim Murphy to choose – MP or MSP?

Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy. Picture: PA

Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy. Picture: PA

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SCOTTISH Labour leader Jim Murphy has come under renewed pressure to declare whether he will stand as an MP in May after confirming he remains “the candidate” for East Renfrewshire.

He was unanimously reselected by the party for the Westminster seat in November 2013 but has since made clear his intention to become an MSP at Holyrood by 2016 after winning the Labour leadership.

Political opponents last night accused him of “leaving open” his options and insisted the area needs a full-time MP.

Mr Murphy, who became Scottish Labour leader in December, has given a “cast-iron” commitment to be Labour’s candidate for first minister in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election and to take a seat at Holyrood.

A spokesman for Mr Murphy said: “Jim Murphy is currently the MP for East Renfrewshire and the candidate. If that changes his constituents will be the first to be told.”

Tory leader Ruth Davidson last night called for Murphy to clarify his position. “East Renfrewshire deserves an MP who will put local people’s needs first,” she said.

Speaking on television last month, Mr Murphy said: “I’ve given a commitment that I’ll be in the Scottish Parliament in 2016 and Labour’s candidate for first minister in 2016.

“I’d like to be there sooner than that and in terms of how we do that and what we do, of course I’ll let my constituents know first and my constituency party know first. But there’s a cast-iron guarantee to be a candidate in 2016 at those elections, if not before.”

Former first minister Alex Salmond previously served as MSP and MP simultaneously, but Mr Murphy said that option is “not something I’m attracted to”.

Kirsten Oswald, the SNP’s candidate for the East Renfrewshire seat, said: “After weeks of dodging the issue, Jim Murphy’s intentions in May are still as clear as mud – with just over three months to go until voters go to the polls, Mr Murphy is still leaving open the option of not standing in his East Renfrewshire seat.

“Local voters deserve some real clarity from Jim Murphy as a matter of urgency.

“If Jim Murphy finally decides that he will be the Labour candidate, I’m looking forward to debating with him and holding him to account on campaigning side by side with the Tories for two years, his party’s support for the Tories’ austerity programme, and his continued commitment to wasting £100 billion on a new generation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Conservative candidate David Montgomery said: “East Renfrewshire needs a full-time MP, not someone with one foot out the door.

“If Jim Murphy’s serious about Holyrood then why is he standing for the Commons once again?

“I am committed for the long haul and will always fight for East Renfrewshire.”

Mr Murphy holds a majority of 10,000 in the seat which was once a Tory stronghold.

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