Keir Starmer ‘must give Murray constitution role to win back Scots’
The Shadow Brexit Secretary is widely expected to win the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn when the result is announced, with a pre-recorded victory speech being broadcast online to comply with coronavirus social distancing measures.
Angela Rayner is expected to be named deputy leader, with the Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray winning credit for a campaign that called for Labour to distance itself from Mr Corbyn’s legacy.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, the former MP and MSP, said that as well as being named Shadow Scottish Secretary, Mr Murray should also be named Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, giving him a key role on the constitution at a UK-wide level.
Mr Murray resigned as Shadow Scottish Secretary in 2016 in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and was never invited back onto the front bench even though that meant two spells where an English MP held Labour’s Scotland portfolio.
“I think he will be Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, because it was just pique and nastiness that Corbyn kept him out,” Lord Foulkes said. “But I think he needs to get more than that, because he’s done so well.
“What Keir should do is give him a job as Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, because the only way Keir is going to become Prime Minister - and I’ve said this to him - is if we win back some seats in Scotland, and Ian knows how to win seats in Scotland.
“One of the keys to that is getting the constitutional question sorted, and Ian is the person to do it.”
Mr Murray has been a leading advocate of constitutional reform, and was closely associated with calls from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale for the UK to move to a more federal structure.
“He would put the energy into it, he understands it, and he would focus on coming up with a solution that is acceptable to the regions of England and which deals with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in a federal or quasi-federal structure,” Lord Foulkes told the Scotsman.
“He would consult with the country on that with energy and understanding and knowledge. I think it would be really impressive.”
Lord Foulkes said a progress on constitutional reform - which stalled under Mr Corbyn - would help Labour fight back against the SNP, which is likely to offer the party the only hope of power through a confidence and supply arrangement after the next general election.
The peer said Mr Starmer’s approach to the nationalists should be “neither cosying up to them nor ignoring them”.
“We can’t be more nationalist than the SNP. We don’t want to support the status quo and the Tories. What we do need to do is have a real alternative, our own proposals.
“[Mr Murray] could be the architect of a solution, just as we did for Scotland when Labour came up with the blueprint for the Scottish Parliament. He could come up with the blueprint for a new constitution for the United Kingdom.”
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