Scots MP launches campaign to be Labour deputy leader

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said he is a 'fighter and a winner' at his campaign launch in Edinburgh.

Ian Murray: Labour's sole remaining MP in Scotland. STV
Ian Murray: Labour's sole remaining MP in Scotland.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray has launched his campaign to become deputy leader of the UK Labour party, describing himself as a “fighter and a winner”.

Launching his bid to replace Tom Watson at an event in Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes on Thursday, Scotland’s only Labour MP warned the party must become a party for the entire UK.

He said Labour should commit to keeping the UK together as well as staying close to Europe, saying the party could no longer afford to “face both ways” on constitutional issues.

The deputy leadership hopeful also pledged to take “personal responsibility” for rooting out anti-semitism within the Labour party should he be elected.

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Murray, a longtime critic of outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was the only one of seven Labour MPs in Scotland to fend off the SNP and retain his seat in the general election on December 12, winning a majority of more than 11,000.

Addressing the media and supporters on Thursday, he said: “I’ve beaten the odds all my life – I’m a fighter and I’m a winner.

“The post of deputy leader of the Labour party needs a fighter and a winner and that’s why I’m standing.”

Murray said Labour had a “choice to make” between being a “credible alternative government” or a party of “diminishing, perpetual opposition”.

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He added: “That’s not my analysis, that’s the analysis of the public.”

The MP criticised shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who said on a visit to Scotland in the summer that a Labour government’s wouldn’t block a second independence referendum if it was desired in Scotland.

Murray said: “Let’s never again have a senior member of the Labour party coming to a Fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival and changing our constitutional position.

“That’s not just disrespectful to the Labour party, that’s not just disrespectful to the Scottish Labour party, it’s disrespectful to every single person who looks to the Labour party for holding this UK together and standing up for the key principle that independence for Scotland is bad for Scotland and independence for Scotland is bad for the rest of the United Kingdom.”

He added: “Facing both ways on major constitutional issues means we don’t stand for anything.

“We should hold the UK together and be as close to Europe as we can possibly be.”

Murray also revealed three of the five candidates to be the next Labour leader – Jess Phillips, Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy – have approached him to discuss issues facing Scotland.

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He stressed the importance of the successor to Corbyn being someone who “takes Scotland hugely seriously”.

Murray added: “But not just Scotland, all of the nations and regions of the UK who told us on December 12 they didn’t feel they could vote Labour.”

The Edinburgh South MP said he was “embarrassed about the cancer of antisemitism” within Labour and pledged a zero-tolerance approach if elected deputy leader.

“I will take personal responsibility for rooting out bullying, harassment and anti-semitism everywhere in our party,” Murray said.