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May 17, 2015

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

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Jim Murphy yesterday announced he intends to stand down as Scottish Labour Party leader next month, after narrowly surviving a no confidence vote. Murphy said he will present a list of suggested reforms to be made to the party, including changing the system for electing party leader to one member, one vote, upon offering his resignation at the next meeting of its national executive in June. Murphy also said he will not stand for the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 and will “do something else”.

Jim Murphy in 2009.
Image: Steve Punter.

At a meeting in the Scottish city Glasgow yesterday, the party’s national executive held a vote of no confidence in Murphy; he won by 17 votes to 14. “Today I received more support in the executive vote than I did from members of the executive when I stood for election five months ago”, Murphy said. Murphy became Scottish Labour leader in December 2014, following Johann Lamont‘s resignation from the role. Until Scottish Labour holds a fresh leadership election — its sixth in a span of eight years — Kezia Dugdale, currently the party’s deputy leader, is to assume the role of acting leader for the time being. Murphy cited concerns about Scottish Labour being divided as a contributory factor to his decision. “Scotland needs a strong Labour party; Scotland needs a united Labour party”, he said yesterday. “We have been the greatest force for change in our nation’s remarkable history. The Scottish Labour party will rise again. It will be under someone else’s leadership and I am confident about my party’s future.”

The announcement came nine days after the party lost all but one of its 41 Scottish seats, including Murphy’s East Renfrewshire constituency, to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in a UK general election, and eight days after Ed Miliband said he would stand down as leader of the UK Labour Party.

There was controversy regarding whether Murphy should retain his role following this performance. Labour Party supporters were reportedly asked to sign a letter supporting Murphy’s leadership, to be presented at the executive meeting yesterday. Calls for Murphy to resign came from multiple quarters, including trade unions Unite and ASLEF, as well as Labour MSPs Alex Rowley and Elaine Smith. Earlier in the week, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said “the anti-Scottish card that was played by Lynton Crosby and the Conservatives” had caused them to win a majority in the general election, before going on to say: “I lay the blame for that very squarely at the feet of Scottish Labour. Not only have they lost Scotland but I think they’ve been responsible for making certain that the Conservatives were back in power in Westminster.” However, trade unions USDAW and Community were amongst those supporting Murphy’s continued leadership.

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In a speech, Murphy suggested he did he did not want the party to be divided as a result of his leadership. “It is clear that the small minority who didn’t accept my election as party leader by the majority five months ago also won’t accept the vote of the Executive today and will continue to divide the party if I remain”, he said. Murphy singled out McCluskey for criticism, claiming to have “been at the centre of a campaign by the London leadership of the Unite union in blaming myself and the Scottish Labour party for the defeat of the UK Labour party in the general election. That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour party.” He went on to criticise what he called McCluskey’s “destructive behaviour”, commenting that: “Whether in Scotland, or in the contest to come across the UK, we cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one prominent man. The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t serve at the grace of Len McCluskey and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey.”

Reacting to the news, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I wish Jim Murphy all the very best for the future. Leadership is not easy and he deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in.” Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “Credit to [Murphy]. He stepped up and energetically campaigned for his beliefs. I wish him the best for the future.” Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the UK Labour Party, said Murphy had been a “hugely important figure” for them, adding: “Jim has given so much to the Labour Party over the last twenty years. He, I know reluctantly, took the responsibility for leading Scottish Labour at the most difficult election they have ever faced. He did so with incredible energy, purpose and dignity […] He leaves with the best wishes and thanks of our movement.”

Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie was more critical in his response, arguing the Greens should be the opposition of the Scottish Parliament instead. Harvie said Murphy’s resignation was “almost inevitable, but even as he announced it he promised to further weaken Labour’s relationship with the wider labour movement. People haven’t left Labour because of the trade unions, but because the party itself long ago strayed from its principles. Without a clear sense of purpose, it has seemed to care only about holding office instead of creating new ideas for a better society. It’s clear that the Scottish Parliament needs an opposition that’s creative and challenging, but which can act constructively too.”

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “Jim Murphy announces a managed exit in order to help the party, which is to his credit. But leaves a tough gig for whoever comes next.”

Wikinews asked Unite the Union to comment on the story and has yet to receive a response. However, Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scotland leader, earlier stated: “Jim has done the decent thing. Scottish Labour needs to recover, re-engage and reform. It can now begin that process.”

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October 18, 2012

Cameron, Salmond sign deal for referendum on Scottish independence

Cameron, Salmond sign deal for referendum on Scottish independence

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Scotland
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United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond have signed a deal for a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in the autumn of 2014. The deal, signed in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, gives the Scottish Government clear legal power to hold a referendum. The deal lapses if a referendum is not held before the end of 2014.

The deal, signed on Monday, achieves a compromise between the proposals of Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are to be allowed to vote in the referendum. Mr Salmond favoured this. However, there is to be only one question on the ballot paper, a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question on whether Scotland should be independent. Mr Salmond had proposed a second question on the ballot paper, on so-called ‘devo-max’. This would have given Scotland full tax-raising powers while still remaining inside the United Kingdom if voters rejected independence.

The pro- and anti-independence campaigns have been setting out their positions. The pro-independence campaign, which is led by former BBC Scotland news chief Blair Jenkins and supported by Mr Salmond’s Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party, seeks to convince voters of the benefits of independence. Mr Salmond said: “The agreement will see Scotland take an important step toward independence, and the means to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland. I look forward to working positively for a yes vote in 2014.” The anti-independence campaign Better Together is headed up by former U.K. chancellor Alistair Darling and is supported by the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservatives, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Mr Darling suggested Scotland leaving the union would mean a pointlessly “uncertain future”.

Currently, Scotland is run through devolution. The Scottish Parliament can make laws on ‘devolved’ issues, which include health, education, and policing. However, the U.K. parliament still has power over ‘reserved’ issues like defence, foreign affairs, and taxation.



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July 26, 2008

SNP wins Glasgow East by-election in Scotland

SNP wins Glasgow East by-election in Scotland

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

UK Parliament constituency of Glasgow East in Scotland

Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate John Mason has won a surprise victory in the Glasgow East by-election in Scotland.

Labour won a majority of 13,507 in the last election, and the constituency has been in Labour Party control in some shape or form since 1922, and the result has been called a “political earthquake”.

In his maiden speech, John Mason said:

Cquote1.svg You have shown that the East End must never be taken for granted, as it has been in the past… Three weeks ago the SNP predicted a political earthquake. This SNP victory is not just a political earthquake, it is off the Richter scale. It is an epic win, and the tremors are being felt all the way to Downing Street. Labour MPs across Scotland will be quaking in their boots. Cquote2.svg

The SNP has a history of upset wins in by-elections in and around Glasgow, including Winnie Ewing in Hamilton in 1967, Margo MacDonald in Govan in 1974, and another in Govan in 1988 by Jim Sillars.

Labour candidate Margaret Curran had been favourite to win, but early on her campaign team was infiltrated by a journalist from The Sunday Times who exposed a number of problems and issues.

SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon has said that this loss for the Labour party is a reflection of both Gordon Brown’s lack of leadership, and her own party’s popularity. “Yes, it was a vote against Gordon Brown, it was a catastrophe for Gordon Brown, but it was also a positive vote for the SNP and our government in Holyrood,” she said. The defeat is one of several in recent months, including fifth place in the Henley and the loss to the Conservatives of Crewe and Nantwich by-elections in England, and the loss of the London Mayoralty. The Glasgow East result is however in Gordon Brown’s proverbial backyard.

First Minister Alex Salmond said there are “no safe seats for the Labour Party anywhere in Scotland”. He also likened the situation to a battle between the SNP run Scottish Government and the Labour run British Government.

Conservative leader David Cameron called for a UK general election. The Conservatives came a distant third in the by-election, overtaking the Liberal Democrats.

Full results

  • John Mason (SNP) 11,277 (43.08%, +26.06%)
  • Margaret Curran (Lab) 10,912 (41.69%, –18.99%)
  • Davena Rankin (C) 1,639 (6.26%, –0.64%)
  • Ian Robertson (LD) 915 (3.50%, –8.35%)
  • Frances Curran (SSP) 555 (2.12%, –1.42%)
  • Tricia McLeish (Solidarity) 512 (1.96%)
  • Eileen Duke (Scottish Green Party) 232 (0.89%)
  • Chris Creighton (Ind) 67 (0.26%)
  • Hamish Howitt (Choice) 65 (0.25%)

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July 7, 2008

Candidates begin campaigning for Glasgow East by-election

Candidates begin campaigning for Glasgow East by-election

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Monday, July 7, 2008

In Scotland, candidates have begun campaigning for the Labour-held constituency of Glasgow East, at which a by-election is due to be held on July 24 on account of former MP David Marshall’s resignation due to stress-related health problems. There are currently 7 candidates in the running to be elected for the Westminster seat. The deadline for nominations is on Wednesday, July 9.

The SNP, who lead a minority administration in the devolved Scottish Parliament, has attacked Labour for Glasgow East’s citizens’ average life expectancy being lower than the Gaza Strip’s.

At the last general election in 2005, Labour won with 60.7% of the vote, holding a 13,507-vote majority over runners up the Scottish National Party (SNP), who gained 17%. However there were delays in their candidate selection process when the frontrunner, George Ryan, dropped out for family reasons. Their nomination consequently went to Margaret Curran, MSP for the Scottish Parliament seat of Glasgow Baillieston and health and wellbeing spokeswoman for the Labour Party’s Scottish arm. Set to start campaigning on Tuesday, she said she is determined to fight poverty and expressed her confidence in the party, claiming that “Labour’s fightback starts right here, right now.”

UK newspaper The Independent has claimed that it has information from MPs and a senior member of the Labour government, which states that they will seek to replace prime minister Gordon Brown if the party do not win the by-election. Labour MP Ian Gibson, who held a majority of over 5,000 votes in his constituency of Norwich North told the paper that “the by-election in Glasgow is crucial. If he cannot win in his own backyard, things are desperate. I think he might go voluntarily.”

Glasgow East by-election
Party Candidate
Scottish Socialists Frances Curran
Labour Margaret Curran
Scottish Greens Dr. Eileen Duke
Solidarity Tricia McLeish
Scottish Nationals John Mason
Conservative Davena Rankin
Liberal Democrat Ian Robertson

Scottish first minister and SNP party leader Alex Salmond began the party’s campaign today alongside candidate John Mason, who is a councillor in the city. “There’s a political earthquake on the way in Glasgow East,” Mr. Salmond told reporters at a community centre in the constituency earlier, claiming that the area’s below-average statistics were a “condemnation of 50 years of Labour Party representation and Labour Party failure”. Mr. Mason also attacked Labour, saying that “Labour MPs are so out of touch they voted to increase tax by another 10p.” He is basing the SNP campaign around acting on rising energy costs.

Scottish newspaper The Herald reported that the by-election is “expected to be a two-horse race between the Nationalists and Labour,” but other parties have also been out campaigning:

The Liberal Democrat Party, third-place in 2005, have selected mathematics teacher Ian Robertson as their candidate. He will begin campaigning on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Conservatives, who came fourth at the general election with 6.7%, are aiming high, party leader David Cameron visiting the constituency today to launch his campaign which is themed on “social decay”, and trying to “repair the damage” of Britain’s “broken society”. He said the party would solve problems like knife crime and poverty by “treating not just the symptoms, but the causes too.”

Also vying for the seat are Solidarity, who selected council worker Tricia McLeish, the Scottish Socialist Party, with former MSP Frances Curran, whose campaign begins on Tuesday, and the Scottish Green Party whose Eileen Duke, a retired GP, will fight the election.



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