SCOTTISH Labour can no longer turn to the party’s “big beasts” as it tries to move forward from its crushing general election defeat, according to its only remaining MP north of the border.
Ian Murray will tell supporters they must look beyond dominant figures such as John Smith, Donald Dewar and Gordon Brown, with responsibility for rebuilding Scottish Labour falling on a new generation of politicians and activists.
The shadow Scottish secretary will give a speech on the challenges facing the party as members vote to elect new leaders at both Holyrood and Westminster.
Mr Murray has already backed Scottish leadership contender Kezia Dugdale, ahead of her MSP rival Ken Macintosh.
He will say: “We will elect a new leader in a matter of weeks and the hard work will begin.
“A fresh team, a fresh approach, a new generation. I’ll play my part in whatever way I can.
But the Scottish Labour Party can no longer turn to the big beasts. It falls to a new generation to take the Scottish Labour Party forwardIan Murray MP
“A party which takes inspiration from those who went before - Smith, Dewar, McConnell, Brown. All of them made their own unique and lasting contribution to our party and to our country.
“But the Scottish Labour Party can no longer turn to the big beasts. It falls to a new generation to take the Scottish Labour Party forward.
“I want us to look back 20 years from now, in government in the UK and in Scotland, and be able to say that when the burden of responsibility passed to the next generation we were up to the challenge.”
Speaking at Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh, which was the venue for Mr Smith’s funeral, Mr Murray will reflect on the challenges the party faced at that time.
“Here we were, three years from the next election, just getting over a defeat that we hadn’t expected, facing yet another leadership election, emerging from a bruising internal fight over party reform,” he will say.
“This was Labour at a low ebb, at a time when we could have easily descended into chaos.
“Twenty-one years ago we said goodbye to John Smith from this church, but three years later we went on to win the first of three historic election victories.
“Our lowest points can be the catalyst for our greatest victories.”
Mr Murray was the only Labour candidate to win in Scotland at May’s election, as the SNP made sweeping gains across the country, taking 56 of the 59 seats.
Recent polling suggests the SNP is also on course for a landslide in next year’s Holyrood election.
He will say that Labour must take a “community-based approach” if it is to win again.
The Edinburgh South MP will say: “From my own experience I see the way the Scottish Labour Party has to rebuild - as a community based movement in every street, town and city across Scotland.
“By being rooted in the communities we seek to represent, we will begin to once again win the trust of voters.
“Today, I say to people across Scotland, we will work every day to listen to you, to talk to you, to work with you.
“This will be the work of the new generation. It has to be the work of the new generation because we cannot go back.”