Jim Murphy: Scots need a champion against Tories

JIM Murphy will say that working class Scots “need a champion against the Tories” as he delivers his first speech as Scottish Labour leader to the party’s conference today.

Jim Murphy will speak at a party conference in Edinburgh on Saturday. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Murphy is expected to promise that his party will end “Tory austerity” and “call time on that five-year experiment of cold and callous policies” that he says has led to the spread of zero-hour contracts and a rise in the use of foodbanks.

He will acknowledge that Labour faces an “enormous” effort in the forthcoming election, but say this “doesn’t compare to the struggles faced by so many Scots every single day”.

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Scottish Labour’s conference in Edinburgh is expected to back a plan set out by Mr Murphy to rewrite Clause 4 – the party’s statement of its aims and values.

Billed as the “biggest change in Scottish Labour’s history” by Mr Murphy, the shake-up will see the party in Scotland make a specific commitment to being a “democratic socialist party and a patriotic party”.

Mr Murphy will also use his speech to make a direct pitch to Labour supporters tempted to vote SNP by warning that nationalist gains could let the Conservatives remain in power and preside over greater austerity. He will say: “As we enter this, the closest and most important general election of my adult life, commentators and critics will say we are in the fight of our lives. We fight not for ourselves but for working class Scots who need a champion against the Tories. Winning is about much more than avoiding losing.

“We are determined to win, not just because we want a Labour government but because those people who are genuinely in the fight of their lives need a Labour government.” Mr ­Murphy will go on to warn that a vote for the SNP would allow the Conservatives to stay in power and pursue policies that would lead to more policies of “poverty creating”, “zero hours contracting” and “foodbank boosting”.

He will say: “I know that there are Labour supporters thinking of switching to be SNP voters this time. We will stop a decade of Tory rule and end Tory austerity. And I’ve met and listened to a lot of those undecided voters and I know that you are desperate for change. What I want to set out to you and the rest of Scotland is that Labour is that change.

“Scottish Labour is clear about what we think of the failed Tory austerity policies.”

Mr Murphy will also pledge to fight for people such as those running small businesses, ­mothers waiting for treatment for mental health conditions or lonely pensioners receiving just 15 minutes of personal care.

He will say: “The effort ahead of us is enormous but it doesn’t compare to the struggles faced by so many Scots every single day:

“The small business person who has staked everything they own and have on the success of their dream;

“The mum juggling a family and struggling with a fluctuating mental health condition and waiting far too long for ­treatment.

“The lonely pensioner for whom sometimes the only human contact is the 15-minute visit from an overstretched care worker.

“It is them we fight for, not for our own sake.”