Scots Labour MP slams union for sparking deselection fight

Unite is targeting Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, a frequent critic of Jeremy Corbyn.

Ian Murray: He was Labour's sole Scottish MP for two years. <strong>CC</strong> Chris McAndrew
Ian Murray: He was Labour's sole Scottish MP for two years. CC

Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray has questioned Unite’s priorities after the trade union launched a bid to deselect him ahead of the next general election.

The union is forcing a vote on Thursday that could oust Murray – a frequent critic of Jeremy Corbyn – as the Labour candidate in his Edinburgh South constituency.

Labour party rules state that a contest to replace a sitting MP is triggered if a third of local members or affiliated unions back it.

Previously a local councillor, Murray first won the Edinburgh South seat in the 2010 election.

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He then became Labour’s only MP north of the border after the 2015 election, when the SNP wipe-out claimed 40 out of 41 formerly Labour seats.

He held the seat again in 2017’s snap election, winning 55% of the vote.

Murray has repeatedly criticised the Labour leader over his handling of Brexit and of anti-Semitism complaints.

He also accused the party leadership of breaking its “broad church” when seven Labour MPs broke away to join a group of independent MPs in February.

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Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, is led by general secretary Len McCluskey, an ally of Corbyn.

In a statement, the Edinburgh South MP said: “It is disappointing that in the week where I’m leading the People’s Vote campaign in Scotland and working around the clock to maintain the cross-party coalition that’s defeating Boris Johnson’s disastrous Brexit in order to protect workers’ jobs and rights, that this is Unite’s priority.

“My constituents are my priority and I won’t be distracted from fighting for them.”

He also suggested he could run as an independent candidate for his seat should the deselection attempt succeed.

Murray told STV News: “I want to be reselected as a Labour candidate and I want to be able to represent my constituents after the next general election. 

“If I was to be deselected, we’ll make that decision at the time after speaking to family and friends. 

“But the most important thing here isn’t Unite the union, it’s about my constituents, and if they want me to run – whether I run for the Labour party or as an independent – then I’ll take their views on that.”

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A Unite spokesman said: “This decision was taken by Unite members following consultation with the relevant committees and branches of the union under our democratic processes.

“Our members are clearly concerned that Ian Murray has consistently undermined the Labour leadership in Scotland and at Westminster, and has on occasion attacked our union.

“No MP is entitled to their seat.

“It is for Mr Murray to now demonstrate why Unite members in Edinburgh South should return him as their representative.”


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