Ian Murray open to Scottish Labour split

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray
Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray
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Scotland’s only Labour MP has signalled he is willing to consider a split between the Scottish and UK parties as he launched his deputy leadership bid.

Ian Murray said Labour “should look at that as an option” after a senior MSP said the Scottish party should break away in the wake of the election disaster last month.

We must become a credible alternative government of the future, not a protest movement of the past

IAN MURRAY Scottish Labour MP

Mr Murray, the only survivor on election night as Labour lost six of its seven Scottish seats, launched his campaign to become deputy leader of UK Labour with an attack on the outgoing party leadership and its backers, branding them “architects of catastrophic failure”.

It came as the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn descended into a proxy conflict over his legacy on only its second day, with the leading contender on the left insisting Mr Corbyn was a “10/10” politician despite the crushing election defeat.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said last week that the Scottish party had been “undermined by colleagues outside Scotland” and warned: “If we look like a pressure group within a UK party structure, we will continue to be rejected.”

Asked whether he supported Ms Lennon’s call an interview with STV, Mr Murray said: “I don’t think we should have any knee-jerk reactions to what happened on 12 December.

“We’re all feeling incredibly sore, and yes, there will be people who will want to look at that as an option. Maybe we should look at that as an option [and] leave everything on the table.

“The important thing here is not to look internally, but to look externally.”

Mr Murray, who defended his Edinburgh South seat with a majority of 11,000, used his victory speech to criticise the Labour leadership for helping to deliver “the worst Conservative prime minister in history”.

In an article for the Daily Mirror yesterday, Mr Murray said Labour would need to “beat the odds” to win an election and reiterated his stark view of the previous campaign.

He said: “The architects of the party’s catastrophic failure in 2019 cannot be allowed to be the architects of the response.

“The next leadership team must turn us into an election-winning machine that uses the skills and talents of all our members and supporters. To win again we will need to beat the odds, and I know how to win by building broad coalitions of support.

“The Labour Party must change. We must be honest with ourselves so we can be honest with the voters. We must become a credible alternative government of the future, not a protest movement of the past.”

The former shadow Scottish secretary becomes the sixth candidate to declare in the deputy leadership contest.

The shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan also confirmed her candidacyyesterday. Ms Allin-Khan, a medical doctor of Polish-Pakistani origin, said Labour must abandon the “ideological purity” that was rejected by voters in last month’s general election.

In an interview last night, Ms Allin-Khan suggested Labour should create a “ministry for fabulosity” to champion ideas like dance-offs between MPs.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, shadow equalities secretary Dawn Butler and shadow Europe minister Khalid Mahmood are also standing for deputy leader.

On Monday, the party’s ruling National Executive Committee agreed the timetable for the leadership and deputy leadership elections, with the results to be announced at a special conference on April 4.

When asked who he was backing in the leadership contest, Mr Murray told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme: “I don’t think it’s right for the deputy leadership candidates to be backing a particular leader because the deputy will have to work with anyone that’s put in place.

“But it’s quite clear that we don’t need a continuity candidate. What we do need is someone who can bring fresh ideas and a fresh approach because a new face and a new voice but the same direction is someone the party should be rejecting.”

Six candidates have announced they intend to stand for the leadership: Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, frontbenchers Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis, and backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy.