Jim Murphy, who has resigned: Not waving but... Photo: Getty
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Jim Murphy resigns as leader of Scottish Labour

Jim Murphy has resigned his position after narrowly surviving a no-confidence vote.

Jim Murphy has resigned as Scottish Labour leader after narrowly surviving  a vote of no confidence in his leadership from the party's ruling NEC by three votes.

He will leave in June, allowing a new leader to take over in the summer. 

He told reporters: "I'll take some time to reflect, I'll always be on call if anyone seeks any point in calling me, I won't be a back-seat driver, I will offer my permanent, unconditional support to my successor. I will never leave the Labour Party - I love the Labour Party and the Labour Party will be back, it'll be back strong because it's built from an idea, not from machine politics. We'll be back, we'll win again."

He criticised Len McCluskey of the Unite union, who had called for him to go, saying that the union boss had blamed him for the wider election defeat of Labour. "That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour party. It's a grotesque insult to thousands of volunteers from someone who pays occasional fleeting visits to our great country."

Murphy indicated he would recommend a one member, one vote policy for choosing his replacement.

His rivals paid tribute to him on Twitter, with the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon saying Murphy "deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in".

The Conservatives' Scottish leader, Ruth Davidson said he leaves a "tough gig" for whoever comes next:


Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.