Ian Murray on life as Scotland’s only Labour MP

SCOTLAND’S only Labour MP, Edinburgh South’s Ian Murray, has said he doesn’t know why he was last man standing at the end of election night while all his party’s other MPs and candidates were defeated.

Ian Murray after being re-elected in Edinburgh South. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Ian Murray after being re-elected in Edinburgh South. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

“I think it was a combination of a lot of factors,” he said. “I haven’t really been able to put my finger on it – if I was, I’d bottle it and sell it to my colleagues.

“We ran the biggest campaign Edinburgh South has ever seen. This has always been a marginal and we’ve worked hard throughout the five years. I was elected at 5am in 2010 and did an advice session at 9.15am – and we haven’t stopped since.”

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During the campaign, the Evening News revealed that Mr Murray’s SNP challenger, Neil Hay, had posted offensive Twitter messages under a pseudonym, referring to No supporters as “Quislings” and claiming some elderly voters barely knew their own name.

But Mr Murray, below, said he was not sure if that influenced the outcome.

“There were other indiscretions by other candidates in other parts of the country and it didn’t seem to affect the result,” he said. “It’s quite difficult to determine whether that was the case.”

As the only Scottish Labour MP, Mr Murray was the obvious choice as shadow Scottish Secretary, where he will take on Scotland’s only Tory MP, David Mundell. He said Labour was sticking to its manifesto stance on the issue of more powers for Holyrood – early implementation of the Smith Commission proposals, going further on welfare powers, and defending the Barnett formula and opposing full fiscal autonomy, or devo-max.

But he acknowledged the debate has got quite messy, with several key figures saying the Smith package has now been overtaken by events.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon is asking for stuff she knows she can’t get.

“We’ve got a piece of legislation, the Scotland Bill, which it seems no-one agrees with now even though everyone agreed with it a few months ago.

“And we’ve got an SNP group who stood in their manifesto on full fiscal autonomy and seem to be rowing back from it as quickly as they possibly can.”

Mr Murray believes a UK constitutional convention is still needed to look at the bigger picture, including “English votes for English laws”, the House of Lords, “powerhouse” regions in England and more.

“There has to be a wider discussion because you can’t cherry-pick bits and pieces of the way the UK operates and just hope it all works out.

“We don’t want to lock the public out and that seems to be what’s happening.”

Despite his status as sole Scottish Labour MP, Mr Murray said he was not feeling too lonely.

“It’s been fine so far,” he said. “I’ve got 231 other colleagues who are working from the same values and interests, and there is a recognition of the important role Scotland plays in the UK and at Westminster. It hasn’t really felt as if I’m on my own at the moment.”