Scotland’s only Labour MP has been appointed to Kezia Dugdale’s shadow cabinet in the latest sign of split between the party north and south of the border.
Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, quit as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Scottish Secretary in the recent mass of frontbench walkouts amid concern over the left-winger’s leadership. He was replaced by Dave Anderson who represents the Blaydon constituency in North east England. Mr Murray now becomes Ms Dugdale’s “Westminster spokesman” in the Holyrood shadow cabinet, the first time such an appointment has been made.
Ms Dugdale has also suggested that Mr Corbyn, facing a challenge to his leadership from Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, should go and is not “competent” to do the job.
Ms Dugdale said: “I’m pleased to welcome Ian to my Shadow Cabinet. As Scotland’s only Labour MP, Ian has a crucial role to play in representing Scotland’s interests at Westminster and working to strengthen our party as he has done since he was re-elected last year.”
Mr Murray said he is looking forward to “rebuilding” the fortunes of the Scottish Labour Party.
He added: “As we look towards the Local Government elections and the next UK General Election, we have to do all we can to strengthen our party, reach out to communities all across Scotland, and speak to the vast majority of working people who need a Labour Government in Scotland and across the UK.
“Following the EU referendum vote, we also need to stand up for those people who voted to remain and understand why over a million Scots voted to leave the EU.”
Ms Dugdale’s deputy leader Alex Rowley was among three senior MSPs who signed an open letter which was widely seen as criticising Mr Murray’s decision to quit the Westminster shadow cabinet and criticise Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
More than 200 Scottish campaigners attended a rally in support of Mr Corbyn at the Scottish Trade Union Congress building in Glasgow on Sunday. Lothian’s MSP Neil Findlay will head up Mr Corbyn’s campaign north of the border after acting in the same role last year during Mr Corbyn’s successful leadership election.
Mr Findlay said: “We’ll be organising events in Scotland in the coming weeks, so we’ll soon see if the public respond in such numbers. I think there’s a great deal of support out there certainly.
“I think it’s the message that Jeremy gave last year about anti-austerity and a call for a fairer and more equal society is what resonates with people beyond just party members and that has not changed, and people are very supportive.”