Jim Murphy, the MP for East Renfrewshire and Labour’s darling during the campaign against Scottish independence, has told BBC Scotland that he intends to stand in Scottish Labour’s leadership contest. He will announce this intention formally today.
Murphy is by no means an unexpected contender. When the former leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont, stood down last weekend, George reported that Murphy was one of her most likely successors. Murphy was expected to be in the running because he impressed his party’s leadership and the Better Together campaign alike when he went around Scotland speaking in favour of remaining in the Union, swapping the traditional soap box for a crate of Irn Bru. His tour was called “100 Towns in 100 Days”.
He described life on the road in a diary for the New Statesman. Here’s an extract:
In Bathgate, a man came out of a Poundland and placed a six-pack of toilet rolls on my crates, with a put-down of: “Big Man, yu’ve been talking shite for an hour, so here – that’s to clean yer mooth oot!” I’ve been barked at by a dog with the word “Freedom” scribbled on it in Biro and heckled by a horse wearing a Yes Scotland blanket. My favourite so far was a man claiming to be “the Oban Seagull Whisperer”. He turned up in the West Highland capital with the sole aim of persuading said seagulls to disrupt our session with the call of nature. I think the bag of chips in his hand was a bigger calling signal than any of his silent sounds.
Murphy is also thought of as the heavyweight contender because he has held a number of frontbench positions in Westminster, including Secretary of State for Scotland under Gordon Brown.
I think it is time for a fresh start for the Scottish Labour party I am proud of the Labour party and I am proud of Scotland – but I am not satisfied.
I want to strike a tone that stops the Scottish Labour party from committing self-harm. I want to unite the Labour party, but more importantly, I want to bring the country back together after the referendum. I am not going to shout at or about the SNP. I am going to talk to and listen to Scotland and I am very clear that the job I am applying for is to be the first minister of Scotland.
He joins the left-wing MSP and Holyrood health spokesperson Neil Findlay MSP, and the Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack, in the contest to succeed Lamont. The Scotsman reports that he will wait until the 2016 Scottish election before standing as an MSP.