New leader to be elected

Murphy quits after narrowly surviving Labour vote

Jim MurphyJim Murphy announced his resignation as Scottish Labour party leader today after narrowly surviving a vote of no confidence.

The party’s executive committee voted 17-14 to support him at a meeting in Glasgow, but he said afterwards that he would step down next month.

Mr Murphy’s decision follows a disastrous near-wipeout of Labour in Scotland at the General Election, its worst ever result. He lost his own seat of East Renfrewshire and the party was left with just one MP in Scotland.

Mr Murphy had faced calls to resign from several MSPs, trade unions and former MPs but insisted he had a job to finish.

He immediately aimed criticism at some of those who attacked him in the aftermath of the Election defeat. He said the next leader should not serve at the grace of Unite leader Len McCluskey whom he blamed for orchestrating a campaign against him.

Two MSPs resign from the Holyrood party’s front bench, and he suffered direct attacks on his leadership from critics who also included Unison and Aslef, as well as his closest rival for the leadership, Neil Findlay.

“We have to draw the poison out of some of the personalities,” Mr Murphy said. “Sometimes people see it as a badge of honour to have Mr McCluskey’s support. I kind of see it as a kiss of death to be supported by that type of politics.”

Scottish Labour will be seeking its sixth leader in eight years. Mr Murphy’s deputy, Kezia Dugdale MSP, will become acting leader until a permanent successor is found.

He took over as party leader last December, with 56% of the overall vote, with heavy support among ordinary members and Labour parliamentarians. His left wing opponent Mr Findlay won 35% of the vote, largely from the unions.

After today’s meeting Mr Murphy said: “It is clear that a small minority who didn’t accept my election as leader of the Scottish Labour Party just five months ago won’t accept the vote of the executive today and that will continue to divide the party.

“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.”

He said Scotland needed a strong Labour party and united Labour party and in a last swipe at union control of the party he said he would submit a report to the next executive meeting urging an overhaul of the Scottish party’s constitution and policy-making structures. This would mean ending the college system which gives the trades unions a third of the votes, in line with procedure in England.


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