Andy McSmith's Diary: Labour's last man standing Ian Murray gets Scottish brief

The Edinburgh South MP is an unsurprising appointment

Andy McSmith@andymcsmith
Monday 11 May 2015 18:50
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Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South
Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South

Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, has been appointed Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. That is no surprise. Harriet Harman could hardly have appointed anyone else – Murray being the only Labour MP left in Scotland. But he is not the obvious person to defend Labour’s policy of renewing Trident.

On that issue, Murray is in complete agreement with the SNP. He thinks renewing Trident would be a vast waste of money and a potential threat to world peace. Before he was elected for the first time in 2010, he told the pressure group Scotland’s for Peace: “We can only convince others to disarm if we are willing to do this ourselves. Replacing Trident flies in the face of this.” And he told The Scotsman only a month ago: “I made it clear to my constituents in 2010 that I would not vote for the renewal of Trident, and I’ve been saying that regularly.”

As a member of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, he is supposed to support the party line, or be sacked. Given his unique position, which makes him effectively unsackable, it will be interesting to see whether that rule applies to him.

Pickles commends a fantastic jogger

Eric Pickles is confident that Greg Clark, his replacement at the Communities Department, will have a good run. He tweeted: “I could not wish for a better successor than @gregclarkmp He will do a fantastic jog.”

Official: IDS is the definite article

At around the same time, David Cameron tweeted: “I can confirm the Iain Duncan Smith will remain as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.” Not any old Iain Duncan Smith – the Iain Duncan Smith, note.

Big names may be sent to Coventry

It has started already. The Coventry Telegraph is speculating on what might happen if Geoffrey Robinson, the 76-year-old newly re-elected Labour MP for Coventry North East, should have to stand down through ill health. Already it is touting the names of those who might take his place – naming Ed Balls, David Miliband, Tony Blair’s son Euan, Douglas Alexander and six others.

Orange left bitter taste for one Tory

Jacob Rees-Mogg, returned as Tory MP for North East Somerset, says that the strangest message he had during the campaign was from a woman who told him that she was no longer going to vote Conservative because David Cameron proposed to put “orange in the Union Jack”.

The phrase was, presumably, used when discussing a hung parliament. Whatever its provenance, it seems to have kept the Mogg’s majority down to 12,749.

Pulling the Woolas over George’s eyes

George Galloway may have before him the Phil Woolas story as he threatens to contest the Bradford West result in the courts. Woolas was re-elected as Labour MP for Oldham East in 2010, but – after two High Court judges upheld a complaint from his Lib Dem opponent that he had lied – he was ejected from Parliament.

That left other MPs and would-be MPs thinking they would have to be more careful about what they said about opponents. But it was not completely implausible that the statements complained of, which were printed in a mocked-up newspaper, could have swayed the result in Oldham East, where Woolas won by 103 votes. Galloway lost by 11,420. He is going to have a struggle arguing that the people of Bradford West did not know what they were doing by voting him out.

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