Here’s how Labour can start winning elections again – Ian Murray MP

Ian Murray's personal victory was tinged with disappointment at Labour losing the general election,  Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Ian Murray's personal victory was tinged with disappointment at Labour losing the general election, Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Deputy Labour leadership contender Ian Murray first became a politician by pulling off an unexpected victory. Here the Edinburgh South MP urges the party to start a fresh debate on how to deal with huge issues such as climate change, the ageing population and increasing automation at work.

A few weeks ago, at the Royal Highland Centre, I stood on a stage and said I was fed-up with the Labour Party losing elections. In the days that followed I returned to work at the House of Commons to represent the people of Edinburgh South, but also to help former colleagues clean out their offices and say goodbye to the staff who lost their jobs.

It was a horrible experience, and one I never want to have to do again.

At the general election we let down the millions of people across the country that desperately need a Labour government. So after speaking to colleagues before and after Christmas, earlier this week I announced that I am standing to be deputy leader of the UK Labour Party.

I love the Labour Party. I first joined it because I wanted to change our country. I owe everything to what the party achieved in government.

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Growing up in Wester Hailes, I was taught to be three things: a patriotic Scot; a passionate Jambo; and a defender of all things Labour.

My values were shaped before I even knew what values were.

Beaten the odds

I never really knew my dad because I was only nine when he passed away suddenly. My mum was left with two boys to look after and I never really appreciated what it must have been like for her back then.

She brought me and my brother up to believe that there was nothing we couldn’t achieve. That cemented my values of fairness, equality, kindness and hard work. All my life I’ve worked hard in all manner of jobs from a kitchen porter and pizza maker to financial services and running my own pubs here in Edinburgh.

People like me don’t usually become politicians, but I’ve beaten the odds.

Traditions have had a huge influence on my life and none more so than the annual tradition of heading to the pub after the AGM of the local Labour Party. One time, that tradition resulted in me agreeing to stand for the city council, probably because I hadn’t bought a drink all night.

I unexpectedly won the council seat. I remember asking my friend and former Edinburgh councillor, Frank Russell, who many readers will know, why I was put forward. “Do you think we would have asked you if we thought you would win?” he said. But I did win and I gave it my all, going on to win again as an MP. It is a real privilege to represent Edinburgh South.

Saving the planet

This forthcoming deputy leadership contest will help put our city at the heart of the campaign.

Candidates will be asked to put forward a vision for cities such as Edinburgh, as well as for Scotland.

I believe Labour can win again, but the party will only turn things round if it doesn’t dwell on the past and looks to the future. I want to instigate the debate about the future. How do we govern ourselves if we are to have a post-Brexit Britain? What does the future of work look like with automation, disruptive technologies, and artificial intelligence, particularly in cities like Edinburgh which depend so much on the finance sector? How do we cope with an ageing population? What skills will our young people and changing workforce require? How do we ensure the communities that provided the backbone of the country in the past become the drivers of the future? How we do save the planet?

These are the questions I want to explore during the campaign.

I’m looking forward to the coming months. But whatever happens, one thing will not change. My priority will always be representing the people of Edinburgh South.

Ian Murray is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South