Ian Murray says different approaches between UK and Scottish Labour are ‘healthy’ and show ‘devolution works’
The Shadow Scottish Secretary defended his party stance over differing stances on Gender Recognition and the two-child benefit cap.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Mr Murray also claimed SNP attacks on Labour showed Stephen Flynn’s colleagues were worried about losing their seats, and also accused the UK Government of letting people die crossing the Channel because it helps them electorally.
Asked about the SNP Westminster leaders comparing Labour to the Tories, Mr Murray claimed the SNP were “running scared”.
He said: “Stephen Flynn spends most of his Prime Minister’s Questions now not pulling the Tory Government down, or hammering Rishi Sunak, but hammering Labour, and that’s because we are gaining in the polls. The latest has us just three points behind at Westminster level.
“All of their MPs are sitting there thinking ‘am I going to lose my job’ and Stephen Flynn decided to turn his attention to the Labour party.
“Nobody believes the Labour party are the same as the Tories, I think it’s a failed strategy. Stewart McDonald, one of their most prominent and sensible MPs has already said this is a hiding to nothing, going down this route.
“Given they’ve been in power for 16 years, and the Tories 13, I’m not sure how they can criticise Labour for anything that’s been happening.
“I think he’s running scared, and it would be much better if Stephen Flynn spent his time criticising the Tories and trying to help a Labour Government get in”.
The Edinburgh South MP also dismissed the SNP labelling Scottish Labour an “office branch”, explaining the two leaders worked very closely, but had “healthy” disagreements.
Speaking in a week the Labour leader had visited the country, he explained: “Anas and Keir work very closely together, they’re not only good colleagues but close friends. It’s the first time in the post-devolution era where the leader of the Labour party and leader of Scottish Labour party work hand in glove.
“I think we could be more robust in saying things can be different, we can have different views, and still work together as one party across the UK and as one party in Scotland”.
Asked about the two-child benefit cap, or self-recognition, both issues which UK Labour has a different approach to, Mr Murray insisted the change was marginal.
He said: “It’s only a slightly different policy for slightly different needs.
“The overall policy is to modernise the Gender Recognition Act, and slightly different approaches to that is how devolution is.
“So I don’t see a problem in having slightly different views on these issues, I think that’s a healthy thing.
“One of the biggest criticisms of the SNP is that every single one of them has read off the same script, there’s been no independent thinking until now, when the wheels are coming off.
“If you use the GRA as an example, I think it’s pretty healthy that you can have slightly different views on how things should operate, that shows devolution works.
“I don’t think there’s any problem at all with having slightly different approaches to things”.
The Hearts fan also defended Sir Keir’s five national missions as something the Labour leader was deeply passionate about.
These include stained growth and higher living standards in every part of Britain; cheaper bills and clean electricity; an NHS fit for the future; safer streets in communities; and more opportunities for children.
He said: “We’ve launched our five missions, and all the other individual policies will cascade from those missions.
“Over the next 18 months or however long it's going to be, we’ll be building out that policy platform.
“This isn’t just a set of Rishi Sunak priorities, this is a key thing that will deliver the priorities of a Labour Government.
“There’s no doubt that Scotland will play a key part in most of those missions, highest sustained growth in the G7, particularly the green superpower mission, GB Energy is a public energy company headquartered in Scotland.
“To say there’s no policy and nothing in this for Scotland would be completely wrong”.
There was also criticism of the SNP, MSP and parliament committee convenor Clare Haughey, who shared a tweet they later deleted attacking the school department of Labour’s candidate in Rutherglen & Hamilton West, Michael Shanks, suggesting this means they were unfit to be an MP.
He said: “That’s a local MSP as well. I just think it's a total disgrace for three reasons, one, she was an Education Minister for a while in the Scottish Government, secondly, it was supposed to be Nicola Sturgeon’s defining mission and they’ve underfunded schools and fundamentally failed the education of our kids for the last 15 years and thirdly, she highlights the problem with the SNP, they can’t deliver anything that's their responsibility.
“If they’re not blaming Westminster, then they’re now blaming teachers and kids for the state of education, when the blame lies squarely with them.
“The very fact she deleted it shows you in itself how stupid it was, and it’s an indictment of the Scottish Government’s failure in education”.
Following Tory suggestions that Labour’s energy policy, which would see no new North Sea licenses granted, would help Vladimir Putin, Mr Murray claimed the criticism was “ridiculous”.
He explained: “All the Tories have got left are these manufactured culture wars.
“People will disagree with the policy, that’s fine, but that’s politics. What we are trying to be is realistic but also show that Britain can be a better place.
“When they say all you are doing is helping Putin is complete and utter b******s, what they’re trying to do is create a culture war that they got away with at the last two elections, I’m not sure they’re going to get away with it this time.
“Look at “Stop the Boats”, they would rather have people drowning in the channel than saving them, because they won’t go after the problem because the problem helps them electorally.
“I think when the public reflect on that, they’ll see all this Government is about is creating a fight that doesn’t exist in order to gain votes. I think that’s pretty disgraceful and deplorable”.
The only Labour MP in Scotland, Mr Murray also explained his party’s resurgence in the polls, saying it was down to both its leaders, as well as the ongoing issues in the SNP.He said: “People will say aren’t you just doing well because of the SNP collapsing, the trial and tribulations with the court cases, and Humza Yousaf and all the rest of it.
“Let’s not forget, Anas Sarwar and Keir got us to the high 20 per cents before all that happened.
“People are looking at the country and need change. Keir Starmer is the most popular politician in Scotland, Keir Starmer is second, so popularity, our policy platform that’s starting to be rolled out, and people seeing the party has changed, add to that the Tory trials and tribulations and its a combination of all of that really”.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.