Labour’s only Scots MP considers deputy leadership bid

Ian Murray has written to fellow MPs to see their views on standing.

Ian Murray: Only elected Labour MP in Scotland.
Ian Murray: Only elected Labour MP in Scotland.

Labour’s only Scottish MP is “exploring the possibilities” of running to be the party’s next deputy leader.

Ian Murray has written to fellow MPs in the Labour Party seeking their opinion on such a move.

With the party seeking a new UK leader and deputy following Jeremy Corbyn’s second general election defeat, Mr Murray declared: “I know how to build large coalitions of voters to win and that is what the Labour Party has to do again.”

In a letter seen by the Press Association, he sets outs his pitch, pledging to help reform the party and insisting that Labour must “grasp the nettle of major constitutional reform”.

Work in this area can start while the party is in opposition, he argues, saying if he becomes deputy leader he will take personal responsibility for setting up a UK-wide constitutional convention “that looks at how we govern the UK from the former coalfield town and metropolitan city regions to the rural areas and our four nations”.

Mr Murray, a prominent supporter for the UK staying in the European Union, has been a vocal critic of Mr Corbyn – with the Edinburgh South MP surviving a bid to deselect him as Labour candidate for the constituency in the run-up to the general election.

He said he is considering running because “constitutional and nationalist issues are engulfing our politics”, with Mr Murray insisting he has experience of dealing with both.

However, he said: “The Labour Party has ducked this issue for too long. English nationalism from the Tories and Scottish nationalism from the SNP are squeezing the Labour Party, and we must stop it. “

Mr Murray also stressed Labour needed a “strong Scottish anchor” to show that “everyone knows that Scotland is taken seriously by the UK party”.

After a “bruising time” – with Labour having lost seats in its traditional heartlands of Scotland and the north of England – he insisted the role of deputy leader could be “critical” in helping the party get back into power.

Mr Murray said: “I am determined to ensure it is the Tories who are moving out of their offices after the next election, but that is going to be a significant undertaking.

“The starting point must be that the Labour Party can only ever win again when it speaks to the whole of the country, and Scotland plays a key part in that.

“It has many of the same political problems that are now spreading to our former Labour heartlands and the so-called ‘red wall’. The road to a Labour government always had to run through Scotland.

“That is still true, but it now also has to run through the north-east and large parts of where we used to be strong in England and Wales.”

Mr Murray said he had won his Edinburgh South constituency in 2010, despite boundary changes making it a notional Liberal Democrat seat.

He then held it in “in the SNP tsunami of 2015”, when Nicola Sturgeon’s party won all but three of the 59 Scottish constituencies. Labour went on to mount a partial recovery in 2017, winning seven seats north of the border, but earlier this month Mr Murray was again left as the only Scottish Labour representative at Westminster.

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