Jim Murphy MP welcomes the official start of the election campaign for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party.
The nominations for Scottish Labour leader have now closed. The debate amongst party members and colleagues in the trade union movement properly begins today.
The broad range of support I have received so far from colleagues in the Scottish, UK and European Parliaments proves that I can be a unifying figure to bring the Scottish Labour Party together again. As you can see from the list of nominations I have the most supporters from all three Parliaments.
The fact that I am backed by so many MSPs, MPs and MEPs shows that the days of division in our party can and must be a thing of the past. Some people might be surprised by the breadth of support that I have received, including people from every corner of our country and every part of our party. It’s a great sign that Labour is moving on from our two shattering Scottish Parliament election defeats.
As many people know I’m a football fan (I’ll be playing against a BBC team tomorrow morning with Phil Neville and Robbie Savage in their line-up). Sometimes in the past the Scottish Labour Party has seemed like a team that enjoyed tackling its own players in public. If a football team did that the supporters would soon turn away and the team would end up playing in an empty stadium. Those days are over for Scottish Labour. This is a fresh start.
I want a Scotland where we don’t judge people by whether they were a Yes voter or a No voter in the referendum. I will take the same approach with my party as I do with my country. If I’m elected Scottish Labour leader I will bring everyone together. Once the contest is over it’s finished – no matter how individual members and trade unionists vote in this contest we will all be on the same side. Each of us is determined to get rid of both the UK and Scottish governments.
We are fortunate in this contest to have three strong candidates. If people support Neil or Sarah, I want those supporters and ideas in our team.
If people consider themselves to be Old Labour or New Labour, they will still have a role to play in the Scottish Labour Party that I want to lead.
And if people consider themselves to be left wing or right wing, they will still have a role to play in the Scottish Labour Party that I want to lead.
New or Old, left or right. I don’t care which you are. If your goal is to elect a Scottish Labour Party that wants to tackle the big challenges facing our country then we can work together.
What Scots want is a Scottish Labour Party that they are proud of again and that will stand up for those in need and help families get on in life.
I have three clear priorities for Scotland if I am elected leader and the Scottish Labour Party candidate for First Minister.
Firstly, the referendum campaign was passionate but on occasion divisive. Families across Scotland disagreed with one another, and even in our own party some people reached different conclusions. Going around Scotland on my 100 towns tour campaigning for a No vote, it was clear that wounds would need to be healed once the Scottish people made their decision.
I will unite Scotland around a vision of more powers within the UK. That’s what the clear majority of Scots voted for in the referendum and I am determined that that’s what Scotland will get.
Secondly, we need to increase prosperity in Scotland. I want there to be as much money as possible to spend on the schools and hospitals that we all depend on. The pressures our public services face are huge. The only way to deliver the standard of health and education that Scots rightly expect, and deserve, is to have a thriving economy which generates the wealth needed to fund our NHS and education system.
I want businesses large and small to be successful, to employ more Scots. Without a growing economy bringing in the tax receipts we can’t help those most in need.
Thirdly, I am determined to carry out an assault on poverty, including for those in work. Too many families in working class communities, like the one I was born into, are just one pay packet away from serious trouble. If the washing machine breaks down or the car fails its MOT, they just wouldn’t be able to balance the family budget.
The task facing the Scottish Labour Party is enormous. So too is the challenge facing Scotland. But there is nothing wrong with Scotland that can’t be changed by the people of Scotland working together.
I want the Scottish Labour Party under my leadership to be driving that change.