murphyScottish Labour leader Jim Murphy spoke this morning after last night’s election results.


I want to begin by thanking the thousands of activists who worked so hard for Labour across Scotland and across the UK for a Labour Government. I want to thank the 700,000 people across Scotland who voted Labour yesterday.

I also want to congratulate the SNP and their activists. Politics, for rank and file volunteers, comes with so few personal rewards. The enjoyment of nights like last night is one of the few rewards grassroots activists get and I congratulate them on their moment. They will have celebrated well into the morning.

Meanwhile Scottish Labour are waking up after a dreadful night for our party. Far worse than that we are waking up on a terrible morning for Scotland, and for working class people across the UK, as David Cameron prepares to form another government. The friends and colleagues defeated have been faithful servants to our party and forceful advocates for their constituents.

But this isn’t about us. It isn’t about individual’s careers. Because while we have lost seats the thing that hurts most is the loss of hope that will be felt as we face another 5 years of a government totally lacking in vision and compassion.

I didn’t stand for leader out of a sense of personal ambition. I stood because I knew that Scottish Labour after losing in 2007 and 2011 and after the emotional hangover of the referendum faced the biggest challenge in our 127 year history. As Leader I wanted to meet these challenges and I still do.

When I was elected I gave a speech where I was frank: we hadn’t been good enough. We hadn’t been radical enough. We hadn’t reflected the optimism and self-confidence of modern Scotland. Those challenges remain. We have worked every day to try to turn this around.

We had, by anyone’s measure, the most radical manifesto. Our campaign was energetic and professional on the ground. The dedication of our activists was extraordinary. But we have been overwhelmed by history and by circumstance.

We make no excuses. A party can never blame the electorate. But we found ourselves hit by the perfect storm of three main factors:

First the simple maths of a Yes vote finding a home in one party versus a No vote spread across three. It is clear that it will be some time before the divisions of the referendum fade into distinctions between traditional left and right.

Second, we were hit by two nationalisms. A Scottish nationalism reassuring people that they could vote SNP and get Labour. And an English nationalism stoked up by David Cameron: warning vote Labour and get SNP. Unsurprisingly, forced into an artificial contest between English nationalism and Scottish nationalism, many Scots, including many no-voting Scots, chose the SNP. And let’s be clear: it wasn’t just in Scotland that the SNP cost Labour votes.

And the third factor is of course the long-standing problems, that led me to stand for leadership in the first place, we had for too long lacked a clear message, a clear offer and continuity of leadership. Five leaders in seven years. We did not have the time or the space to turn it around. Some have said it was an impossible task – to turn around years of gradual decline in 5 months – but it hurts nevertheless. That was my job.

Scotland deserves a stronger Scottish Labour Party.   Working class people need the party back on its feet.

So where now for Scottish Labour? We have to start from our strengths. And here the success of the SNP strategy offers us a guide on how to move forward. We have been beaten by a party who claimed our heritage, clothed themselves in our values, and copied many of our policies. They promised this wasn’t about independence. They went out of their way to avoid even mentioning Fiscal Autonomy. And of course, the central message of this election for the SNP was that you could vote for them and get a Labour Government.

I am determined that we will always be a better Labour party than the SNP. We will take confidence in the principles behind our policies and we will renew and retarget them for the Scottish election. We will defend Scotland against any attempts to undermine our public services by abolishing Barnett and any attempts to undermine our welfare state.

With less than a year to the Scottish Parliament elections. We cannot afford another period of introspection. People need Labour now. They need a strong opposition. They need us to be what we have always been at our best, a voice for working people.

We have a century of sacrifice and struggle behind us. From council housing and new towns, from hydroelectric to wind power, from the NHS to the smoking ban, Labour has been the biggest and most progressive force for change in Scottish history.

We will be again. But only if we have the courage of our convictions.

This morning I think of the words of Ernst Toller:

“It is not seemly for you to Mourn,
It is not seemly for you to delay,
You have received a legacy soaked in the heart’s blood of your brothers.
The pregnant deed waits for you.
…Wide burst the gates of bright morning.”

Last night was gloomy for Labour. This morning as the sun rose we were hurting.

But in a morning like this, before too long. We will bounce back. We will again be the change that working people need.

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6 thoughts on “Murphy: full speech

  1. Jim, unless Labour returns to it’s fundamental core founding principles,and is seen to be acting with integrity in regard to same, it is doomed. This 2015 result is a chance for that to materialize in Scotland. There is too much evident personal hypocrisy, e.g your links to the Henry jackson cabal , your stance on illegal wars, collusion with anti Palestine groups etc.etc..You call yourself a socialist.Clearly you are not. Miliband and Clegg honorably resigned. You should too. Pass the baton to a real socialist and let Labour in Scotland rise from the ashes.

  2. Woke up to what had been dreaded but seemed impossible – the SNP party and the Tories winning so many seats. In mourning for all those Labour MPs who have worked so hard on behalf of us all. But your analysis is spot on when you say that the SNP have covertly stolen our values and ideas and we need to put pressure on the SNP to show them for what they are. They have had years to prepare for this while we have been resting a bit on our laurels. A new rethink is necessary. You did all you could but the rot had already set in.

  3. It is worrying to see Jim still suggesting that the referendum has somehow clouded “traditional distinctions between left and right as if opposing Trident renewal and Tory Austerity is some sort of distraction from real politics.
    And surely now is the time to stop portraying the SNP’s demand for Scottish self-determination as some kind of sinister nationalism. This daft political pedantry has been rejected by the Scots; are 50% of us closet Nazis? Come on!
    And whose fault is it that Labour presented no clear message to voters? Jim spent much of the campaign banging on about the SNP wanting a second referendum seemingly oblivious to the fact that the voters deserting Labour for the SNP were not put off by the prospect and that the SNP were not even talking about referendums.
    Scottish Labour has proved monumentally incompetent since the referendum and it is no surprise that Scots saw their hollow anti-SNP rhetoric and stunts as proof that they had nothing to offer.
    Scottish Labour is finished unless it addresses the issue of Scotland’s place in the union. The desire for political independence from an increasingly desperate, right wing declining empire is not a sign of xenophobic fascism but a modest and honourable asperation. Unless it understands that and treats the increasing numbers of Scots who embrace that desire with respect then it will never climb out of the hole it has dug for itself.

  4. Those thousands of Scottish actvists who worked so hard for Labour and gave time, energy and money need a better explanation from Jim Murphy on why he should stay as leader than a few lines from a German Expressionist poet and “we cannot afford another period of intrspection” as if it’s the fault of the electorate we lost 40 seats as they misheard/misread and voted for the wrong party by error – and the architects of a poor campaign bear no responsibility.

  5. Got to hand it to Jim, not many would hang around after losing 40 out of 41 seats.
    Anybody else would have fled the country for a couple of weeks.
    The only way is up.

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