Jim Murphy, new leader of Scottish Labour Party, pledges to ‘end inequality once and for all’

Former Scottish secretary beats Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack to win the job

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Indy Politics

Scottish Labour today announced the election of Jim Murphy as its new leader with more than half of total votes.

The former Scottish secretary received 55.77% of total votes, beating Holyrood health spokesman Neil Findlay (with 34.99%) and former Scottish Executive minister Sarah Boyack (9.24%).

Kezia Dugdale (62.89%) beat Katy Clark (37.11%) to be elected the Scottish Labour Party deputy leader.

The leadership contest began when Johann Lamont suddenly resigned having accused Westminster colleagues of treating Scotland like a “branch office”.

Mr Murphy, who was Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform from 2006 to 2007, said that his aim is to end poverty and inequality.

The former East Renfrewshire MP said: “It is my driving purpose, it is our driving purpose, it's Scottish Labour's driving purpose to end that type of inequality once and for all.

”While I'm proud that so many children from prosperous backgrounds do brilliantly at school, it makes me angry that it's three times harder to get good school results if you're from a poorer family than a prosperous family.”

He also tweeted that he contacted Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of the Scottish National Party, to say that he feels positive about their future working relationship.

However, with less than five months to go until the general election in May and backing for the SNP on the rise, Mr Murphy will be pressed for time in trying to halt Labour's declining support in Scotland.

The party has not been in power north of the border since 2007 and recent polls have suggested it is trailing the nationalists in voting intentions for both Holyrood and Westminster.

Labour won 41 of the 59 Scottish constituencies in the 2010 Westminster election and party leader Ed Miliband hopes they can again tally a large number of MPs from Scotland in the hope to boost his chances of ousting the Coalition government in a bid to become the next prime minister.

Mr Murphy - who played a high-profile role in the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK - was bookmakers' favourite to win the contest, with Ladbrokes saying 90 per cent of the money it has taken has been from punters backing Mr Murphy.

Under the electoral college system, a third of the votes will be decided by Scottish Labour parliamentarians. Another third goes to members of the party in Scotland and the final third go to those who are members of affiliated trade unions and societies.

Additional reporting by PA