Dumfriesshire was “offered up” to the former Labour leader Jim Murphy by its sitting MSP, it has been revealed.
The Labour candidate and former MSP for the seat Elaine Murray admitted to ITV Border that she was prepared to step down in order to force a by-election in 2014-15. It was hoped Mr Murphy, then an MP, would win the seat in order to lead Labour in the Scottish Parliament. Dr Murray told ITV border’s Joe Pike that she was prepared to “sacrifice” herself for the sake of the party.
In the end, Mr Murphy lost his Westminster seat of Eastwood in the SNP tsunami of 2015 and stepped down as Labour leader in Scotland.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine, SNP candidate for Dumfriesshire in the Scottish Parliament election on 5th May, said:
“Elaine Murray’s claims of loyalty to local people are undermined by her astonishing admission that she was prepared to ditch them to give her boss a job. So much for local commitment – the people of Dumfriesshire were to be served up on a plate to save Labour’s blushes.
“Jim Murphy has never shown any interest in this area – unless you count the time during the referendum when he came to Dumfries and Sanquhar to shout at people through a megaphone.
“The by-election plan was never likely to be a success because Labour’s close collaboration with the Tories had already destroyed them in the eyes of their former voters in Dumfriesshire. That remains the case.
“Elaine Murray’s astonishing admission is a timely reminder of how Labour politicians took voters for granted. No wonder they are in a pathetic electoral state today.”
The plans to force a by-election in Dumfriesshire constituency were made to Joe Pike of ITV Border, broadcast on Friday 15th April. Transcript follows:
Joe Pike: But what of Elaine Murray’s commitment? ITV Border can reveal that 18 months ago when Jim Murphy was leading her party and looking to move from being an MP at Westminster to being an MSP at Holyrood, Elaine Murray offered to stand down. The plan was to make way for Mr Murphy to contest the seat in a Dumfriesshire by election. That of course never happened.
Elaine Murray: He would still have had to be selected by the party here, he would still have had to be selected by, elected by the people here, but I was prepared to make the Leader of my party that offer because it was the safest seat in 2011.
Joe Pike: That suggests you don’t really want to represent this constituency doesn’t it?
Elaine Murray: No it doesn’t, it means that I actually think that I was prepared to make a sacrifice for the benefit of my party.