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Jim Murphy quits as Scottish Labour leader despite confidence vote – and bows out with swipe at Len McCluskey

Mr Murphy had been under pressure to quit following the party's performance in the election

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 16 May 2015 22:38 BST
Jim Murphy had faced calls to resign following the general election
Jim Murphy had faced calls to resign following the general election (PA)

Jim Murphy will be stepping down from his post as Scottish Labour leader following his ousting as an MP and Labour’s huge losses to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the general election.

He said he would step down at a meeting of the national executive in Glasgow next month, when he submits wide-ranging plans to reform the beleaguered party.

Mr Murphy faced repeated calls to resign last week after his party lost 40 seats in Scotland, being wiped out by the SNP in all but one solitary seat.

He won a vote of confidence by the Scottish Labour executive today and said he will use the mandate to put forward a report on how to rebuild the party and win back votes.

“This was a terrible election defeat both north and south of the border - I’m under no illusion about how big our defeat was or how big our challenges are,” he said.

“We need a plan to build on the residual strength and support we got from hundreds of thousands of Scots at the general election.”

Mr Murphy said his key recommendation was a “one member, one vote” policy for leadership elections.

He wants a successor in place by the summer to campaign for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections and said he will not be standing as an MSP.

The former East Renfrewshire MP described the Labour Party as a “second family” where he had “laughed and cried, won and lost” among some of his best friends.

Mr Murphy said he felt great pride at having worked for a “great cause…for the betterment of people whose names you don’t know and whose faces you will never look upon”.

He added: “Scotland needs a strong Labour Party, Scotland needs a united Labour Party.

“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’m confident about my party’s future.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey had called for Mr Murphy to resign (Getty)

Mr Murphy used his resignation speech to launch an attack on Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite.

He claimed he had been at the centre of a “grossly insulting” campaign by the union to blame Scottish Labour for the party’s UK-wide general election defeat.

“One of the things about stepping down is that you can say things in public that so many people in the Labour Party can only say in private,” he continued.

“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.”

The Unite leader had been one of several voices calling for Mr Murphy to step down questioning Scottish Labour’s election strategy.

Kezia Dugdale, Mr Murphy’s deputy, will be acting leader of the Scottish Labour Party until a successor is appointed.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP, reacted to the resignation on Twitter.

She said: “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.”

The Independent has contacted Unite for a response to his comments.

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