Labour hustings: Murphy call for economics school

Jim Murphy. Picture: Michael Gillen
Jim Murphy. Picture: Michael Gillen
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The Capital should be home to a new Scottish school of economics, Labour leadership hopeful Jim Murphy has told party members in the Capital.

The former Scottish secretary and his two rivals for the job – Lothian MSPs Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay – spoke at a hustings meeting ahead of the vote to choose a successor to Johann Lamont.

Mr Murphy said Labour needed to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of non-Nationalists who voted Yes.

But he said the party also had to acknowledge how far it had fallen. At the last Holyrood election the combined majorities of all the party’s constituency MSPs was 21,727.

He said: “In a country of 4.3 million voters, we were 21,000 votes away from being wiped out altogether.”

Asked what he would do for Edinburgh, he said that, despite the problems, financial services still give the Capital an advantage.

“I would like to build a Scottish school of economics so Edinburgh becomes the European centre for economic intellectualism.”

And he backed a comment by Ms Boyack that although the party had set up an office in the Capital, it was not used.

Mr Murphy has promised to raise £1 million for Labour before the general election and he said a “huge proportion” of it would be spent in Edinburgh.

“We have an office and a phone line and not much else.”

Ms Boyack contrasted the leadership contest with Nicola Sturgeon’s unopposed succession in the SNP. She said: “Unlike our opponents who had a coronation, we are having a real debate.”

She said Labour had to rebuild itself, reconnect with people and inspire them. She said research showed more equal societies were also more successful societies.

“Here in Edinburgh we have huge opportunities for investment not currently being used. We have a Green Investment Bank that could be investing in local companies, building new renewables, we’ve got huge pension funds based in Edinburgh that could be invested in new housing projects. So we shouldn’t just be talking about money from the public sector, we should be looking at a framework for national investment involving the private sector as well.”

Mr Findlay said people in Scotland wanted their Labour Party back. He said: “If we are going to have a better Scotland this party needs to have policies which are ambitious to meet Scotland’s needs.”

He said he wanted to eradicate youth unemployment, put vocational education on the same footing as academic learning and end poverty pay. Some 38,000 people in Edinburgh would benefit from a living wage, he said.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com