Ian Murray says ‘all bets are off’ on Labour’s chances at Holyrood election

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray has said “all bets are off” regarding Labour’s chances in next year’s Holyrood elections as there could be a “re-calibration” following the coronavirus outbreak.

Ian Murray believes there may be a 're-calibration' due to the crisis

The perspective of the Scottish electorate could change following the pandemic, the Edinburgh South MP believes, shifting away from the constitutional issues.

He said: “I feel that what this crisis has done from a political perspective is re-calibrated everyone’s focus on what’s important. That’s about community, public services, the security of the world of work, the fragility of the economy, education, what’s most important to families and businesses across the country.

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“What this crisis hasn’t shown, is that arguments around the constitution help anyone.”

Mr Murray said that Scottish leader Richard Leonard had a “real opportunity” in next year’s election with a new deputy leader in Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie and new leadership at UK level.

Mr Murray added: “The conversations I’ve had with various people in the Scottish Labour Party has shown everyone is up for that fight.”

At December’s election, Labour dropped six seats north of the Border on a night that saw the Conservatives race to an 80-seat majority – a result Mr Murray said was the fault of UK leaders and not Mr Leonard.

He said: “Was Richard responsible for this campaign? You can argue strongly that he wasn’t, for a number of reasons.”

One of those reasons, according to Mr Murray, was the intervention of John McDonnell during the summer of 2019, which saw the then shadow chancellor say a Labour government would not block a second vote on independence despite the anti-referendum position of Scottish Labour.

He said another cause was the lack of clarity from Jeremy Corbyn on whether he would do a deal with the SNP.