SCOTTISH Labour should “apologise” for not listening to voters after electoral defeat, leadership candidate Jim Murphy has said.
The former Scottish secretary and the current shadow international development secretary has emerged as the early favourite for the job Johann Lamont left last week but he faces competition from MSPs Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack.
Nominations opened for the posts of leader and deputy leader north of the border yesterday and Mr Murphy will formally launch his campaign in Edinburgh today.
He believes the party failed to listen to voters who rejected it in the 2007 and 2011 Holyrood elections, and wants to lead change.
Mr Murphy said: “Scotland is my country. The country I want to lead. But if Labour wants to win we must first change ourselves.
“The Scottish people want change - they couldn’t be clearer.
“They also want better and many want Labour to be part of that improvement.
“But when they look at us they think we’ve not listened. It sure looks like that from where they sit, so who can blame them?
“I want to apologise because twice Scots have said they didn’t think we were good enough to govern in Scotland - in 2007 and 2011.
“We didn’t listen to them. That has to change.
“I want a Labour Party that is as proud and confident as the country we seek to govern.
“I want people to feel a sense of passion and pride in voting Labour again.
“But for that to happen I know that I have to apologise because too many Scots thought we weren’t up to the job in the past.
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“I know that Scottish Labour has to change if we are to govern in Scotland again.”
Mr Murphy played a key role for Better Together during the referendum campaign when he carried out his pro-union 100 Streets in 100 Days tour.
He added: “It’s not our ideals that are out of kilter with Scotland. Scots have backed us to run the UK.
“All of our previous Scottish Labour Party leaders are proud and passionate servants of our party and our country.
“Scots back us to run many of Scotland’s great cities.
“Let’s be honest, it’s our vision for Scotland. Or more truthfully our lack of vision. We have been rejected and now we need to change.”
Mr Findlay, Scottish Labour’s health spokesman, announced his intention to stand earlier this week.
He said he wants to work for progressive change and ‘’create a fairer, more equal and prosperous Scotland’’.
‘’If elected Labour leader, I will put the issue of social justice at the heart of everything we do - this is the historic mission of the Scottish Labour Party but it also has to be about what we deliver for the Scottish people in this post-referendum period,’’ Mr Findlay said.
Ms Boyack co-chaired the review of Scottish Labour with Mr Murphy in 2011, which was designed to make the Scottish leader head of the entire party in Scotland, including MPs, MSPs, MEPs and officials.
She announced her intention to stand on Tuesday.
She said: ‘’Scottish Labour is going to be the key party in the run-up to the UK elections. It’s absolutely crucial that we get an Ed Miliband government elected.
‘’So, that’s why I believe in putting my name forward. I can work with colleagues and I can take that debate forward. That is the key thing.
‘’I did the review of the Labour Party just a couple of years ago. There’s unfinished business there.
‘’But the key thing is what does the Labour Party stand for, how can we work together and how can we support people around the country?’’
Earlier this week, an Ipsos MORI poll for STV News found that 52% of Scots would vote for the SNP if there was a Westminster election tomorrow, suggesting the party could secure 54 Scottish seats in the Commons, with Labour reduced from 40 to just four.
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