Jim Murphy should resign as Scottish Labour leader, Labour MSP says

The party leader is under pressure to quit after a disastrous election performance

Jon Stone
Tuesday 12 May 2015 14:16
Jim Murphy has failed to reverse Labour's fortunes since taking over as leader last December
Jim Murphy has failed to reverse Labour's fortunes since taking over as leader last December

Scottish Leader Jim Murphy should resign after losing all but one of the party’s Westminster seats, one of his party’s Scottish shadow ministers has said.

Alex Rowley, MSP for Cowdenbeath, said Mr Murphy would become an “unhelpful distraction” if he did not leave his post.

The Scottish Labour leader, who was MP for East Renfrewshire before the general election, lost his seat at Westminster in last week’s SNP landslide.

All but one Labour MP in Scotland also lost their seat in the SNP landslide – an unprecedentedly bad result for the party.

Mr Murphy has resisted calls to quit and said he will fight the Scottish Parliament elections 2016, however.

Ed Miliband, Mr Murphy's UK-wide counterpart, quit after the defeat, which was less severe across Britain as a whole.

“I sincerely hold the view that you continuing as leader whilst not in the Scottish Parliament, and not in an elected position holding a democratic mandate, means you will become an unhelpful distraction from the real issues that Scottish Labour must focus on,” Mr Rowley wrote in his own resignation letter from the Shadow Cabinet.

The former Scottish Labour party general secretary added: “Over the coming weeks rank and file Labour Party members must have their say on the way forward for Labour in Scotland and I want to be part of that discussion.

“It is clear from the discussion yesterday that dissent in public from the leadership view is perceived as disloyalty, but I am convinced we need a fundamental change in direction and strategy and therefore cannot sign up to your leadership as one of your shadow team.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party said: “It's disappointing that Alex chose to resign. The task for the Scottish Labour Party going forward is to work together to rebuild our movement and regain the trust of the people of Scotland.”

Mr Murphy has been in his post since late last year.

Over the weekend Neil Findlay, a former leadership contender and a figure on the left of the party also resigned from the shadow cabinet, saying the election had been “a disaster”.

Two major trade unions, Unite and Aslef, have also called for Mr Murphy to step down.

Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish general secretary, said at the time that Mr Murphy staying on as leader would “only prolong the party’s agony”.

Polls started to turn against Scottish Labour shortly after the independence referendum, before Mr Murphy became leader.

The Scottish party’s polling position has worsened further still on his watch, however.

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