IAN Murray returned from the election battlefield with a unique but unwanted distinction – as the sole surviving Scottish Labour MP.
As colleagues across the country fell to the SNP, the shadow business minister – who had the slimmest majority in Scotland at the last election – emerged from Thursday’s poll as the last man standing. He secured 19,293 votes against SNP candidate Neil Hay’s 16,656 – a share of 39.1 per cent of the vote.
And his victory speech struck a defiant tone against the Nationalists, arguing to rapturous cheers from his supporters that “constitutional politics never lifted a child out of poverty”.
He said: “Congratulations go to the SNP and all their successful candidates – having built the hopes and aspirations of Scots, you are now charged with meeting those heavy responsibilities.
“You cannot now hide from, or blame others for not meeting, those promises.”
Mr Murray also paid tribute to the “many dedicated and hard-working MPs” that had lost their seats across Scotland.
He added: “The people of Edinburgh South have put their faith in me again, and I will represent all of you, regardless of how you voted today, over the next five years.”
But his speech was often met by jeers from Nationalist supporters. He said Scotland needed a “strong Labour Party” to look after vulnerable people “like my own mother, who was left with two young boys when my father died and was left to fend for herself back in the 1980s”.
He continued: “We are now entering a new era of constitutional politics. Constitutional politics has never built a school, has never staffed a hospital and has never lifted a child out of poverty.”
Mr Murray said during the election that his narrow majority over the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 general election meant he had been used to intensive campaigning.
The regular door-knocking and street stalls may have helped him hang on to his seat when all around were losing theirs.
But he also had a high profile thanks to his involvement with the fans’ takeover of Hearts.
The Foundation of Hearts was created as a not-for-profit organisation in 2010 by a group of local businesspeople, including Alex Mackie, Jamie Bryant, Brian Cormack, Donald Ford and Garry Halliday, all lifelong Hearts supporters.
They wanted to bring Heart of Midlothian back to the people who are truly passionate about the club – the fans.
In 2013, the Foundation was joined by all the Hearts supporters’ organisations – the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders Association, the Heart of Midlothian Supporters’ Trust, Hearts Youth Development Committee (HYDC), and Save Our Hearts – under the chairmanship of Mr Murray.
And the united group worked under the Foundation of Hearts banner to take forward the vision of fan ownership.
Edinburgh South Nationalist candidate Neil Hay also emerged with a unique claim to fame – the only SNP hopeful to be defeated by Labour on the party’s night of triumph.
He came under fire last month after tweeting comments insulting elderly voters and linking to a satirical website branding No voters “Quislings”.
Mr Hay admitted the controversy over his tweets “certainly would not have helped” shore up his vote, adding that he was “obviously disappointed” with the result.
He also insisted he had not had “time to digest” the reasons for his electoral defeat and would “never know” if the Twitter controversy had made a real difference.
He said: “I obviously had hoped to stand and represent the candidates of Edinburgh South. But it’s an exciting time for Scotland and an exciting time for the party. I’m absolutely delighted for the other successful candidates and for the party as a whole.
“The SNP’s success came through on the doors. People don’t trust Labour any more and they believe the SNP will keep their word and hold to their promises. And it’s the feeling that for years now Labour have stood with the Tories and lost their roots.
“We ran a really positive campaign. We focused on the case for a better Scotland.”
While Mr Murray survived as an MP, three other city politicians were unceremoniously ejected from their Westminster seat.
Labour colleagues Mark Lazarowicz in Edinburgh North and Leith and Sheila Gilmore in Edinburgh East, together with Lib Dem Mike Crockart in Edinburgh West, all found themselves losing to Nationalists.
Mr Lazarowicz – an MP since 2001 – thanked his former constituents for the “immense privilege” of representing them over the past 14 years, before addressing Labour’s huge losses.
He said: “Our country needs our values, our principles, our commitment to social justice – which does not stop at national boundaries. We know, and we must, take that message forward.”
Ms Gilmore, who had been MP for the seat since 2010, said it had been a difficult day for Scottish Labour.
But she said: “We will be back. Scottish Labour have an important role to play in the future of Scotland.”
Conceding defeat, Mr Crockart said: “I’m very disappointed, but this is democracy. I have been incredibly proud to have served the constituents of Edinburgh West over the past five years.”
Brock to leave posts as councillor and Depute Lord Provost
DEIDRE Brock is to step down as Depute Lord Provost and as a city councillor following her election triumph.
The SNP candidate pushed Labour’s Mark Lazarowicz out of the Edinburgh North and Leith seat as her party surged to a landslide victory in Scotland.
But the new MP will give up her roles at City Chambers, where she represents Leith Walk as well as supporting Lord Provost Donald Wilson.
A spokesman for Councillor Brock said she felt it was “not possible” to continue in her roles and serve her new constituents properly.
He added: “She will have to have discussions with people in the council to make sure her [Leith Walk] ward is well-served.
“But she will be looking to step down as Depute Lord Provost in the near future and as a councillor at the appropriate time.
“In the meantime, she will donate any salary to charities in Leith.
“It is only a matter of time before she steps down from both roles, but this will be done in a way that does not leave the people without representation and to give plenty of time for democracy to take its course.”
A by-election will be called when she vacates her council seat.
It is understood that the timescale will be decided by city council chief executive Sue Bruce after Cllr Brock has formally announced her decision.
During the general election campaign, she promised to protect pensions from further cuts and backed a rise in the minimum wage.
In her victory speech she paid tribute to Mr Lazarowicz and promised her new constituents that she would not let then down.
She said: “A strong team of SNP MPs means a voice for the victims of austerity, and a strong voice against the obscenity of nuclear weapons.”
Before entering politics, Australia-born Brock studied performing arts and appeared in episodes of soap opera Home and Away.
She moved to Scotland in 1996 and was elected to the city council in 2007.
A Gaelic speaker, Cllr Brock is a board member for the Edinburgh International Festival and Creative Edinburgh, and has also served as convener of culture and leisure for the city.