Jim Murphy was today formally launching his bid for the Scottish Labour leadership with a warning to the party that it must change if it is to win power again.
Speaking at an event in Edinburgh, he was also expected to apologise to voters for Labour’s failure to listen to them.
Mr Murphy, former Scottish secretary and currently shadow international development secretary at Westminster, is one of three candidates battling to succeed Johann Lamont, who resigned a week ago. Lothian MSPs Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay have also thrown their hats in the ring.
Mr Murphy said his 100-town tour across Scotland during the referendum campaign allowed him to hear what people were saying and has left him “hungry for change”. He was expected to tell an audience at the Royal College of Surgeons: “If Labour wants to win, we must first change ourselves.
“The Scottish people want change – they couldn’t be clearer. But when they look at us they think we’ve not listened. I want to apologise because twice Scots have said they didn’t think we were good enough to govern in Scotland – in 2007 and 2011. We didn’t listen to them. That has to change.
“I want people to feel a sense of passion and pride in voting Labour again. But for that to happen I know that I have to apologise because too many Scots thought we weren’t up to the job in the past.”
He said it was not the party’s ideals that were out of kilter with Scotland.
“Let’s be honest, it’s our vision for Scotland – or more truthfully our lack of vision,” he said.
Mr Findlay, Labour’s health spokesman at Holyrood, said the priority was to address basic issues people were concerned about.
He said: “People were raising throughout the referendum the issue of social justice and issues like employment and the living wage.
“These are the things that will get us back connected with the voters and Labour has to have an offer that is radical and connects with people.”
Ms Boyack, who is the party’s local government spokeswoman, said Labour needed a clear programme and plan of action.
She said: “We have a huge challenge and our task is to get talking to people who voted in record numbers in the recent independence referendum and to persuade them that Scottish Labour will represent them, will be on their side.”
Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale is this weekend considering whether to put her name forward for the deputy leadership following Anas Sarwar’s resignation. She told the Evening News earlier this week she would bid for the post if there was a vacancy.
North-East MSP Jenny Marra, who is co-chairwoman of Jim Murphy’s leadership campaign, has ruled herself out of the deputy contest.