General election not in country's best interests

I love elections but this snap General Election is a step too far. Since 2010, we have asked voters to go to the polls no fewer than ten times. That is a major election every eight months.

Thursday, 18th May 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:39 pm
Theresa May on what is becoming a well-worn campaign trail. Picture: Getty

There is no doubt we are seeing a degree of voter fatigue. Added to that is activist fatigue. One cartoonist explained it wonderfully by depicting an activist with a rosette talking to a voter on the doorstep. The punchline was “we need to stop meeting like this”. Like many great cartoons, it’s right because it’s true.

This general election on June 8 is completely unnecessary and has more to do with the Conservatives’ obsession with Brexit and nothing to do with the best interests of our country. We have seen it before. The former prime minister, David Cameron, bet the farm on an EU referendum and lost. Like him, Theresa May is putting the party before the interests of the country.

Theresa May promised time and time again that there wouldn’t be a general election, whilst preparing for one and then calling one. That is not the act of a prime minister who can be trusted. And her justification for it is spurious at best: she says Brexit is a priority, but she has chosen to waste eight weeks on an unnecessary election as the Brexit clock ticks.

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Edinburgh South Labour candidate Ian Murray. Picture: Ian Rutherford

What the Prime Minister really objects to is people’s refusal – in parliament and across the country – to roll over and accept her reckless plans for Brexit. But I think the right to oppose is a cornerstone of democracy. I voted against Article 50, and I am proud I did so. We were promised a cost-free Brexit but already this is starting to unravel: the gains are illusory and the costs are rising.

Residents in Edinburgh South didn’t vote for a hard Brexit and shouldn’t have it forced on them. I will always fight for what’s best for my constituents and I will oppose Theresa May every step of the way. We must not give the Prime Minister a blank cheque for her Brexit strategy.

I’m delighted to get the endorsement from the cross-party, grassroots organisation Open Britain, for my work against a damaging hard Brexit. It is recognition for the way in which I have championed the needs of Edinburgh and key sectors here such as financial services, higher education, research and the contribution of EU nationals.

We also have the First Minister who said on the day the election was called that she “promises to make the election about a second independence referendum”. Well, I think enough damage has been done to the Scottish economy and our public services. We don’t need more division and uncertainty. Let’s send a strong message that we don’t want another independence referendum.

Edinburgh South Labour candidate Ian Murray. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Let’s be brutally honest. Edinburgh South is a two-horse race between me and the SNP. Local opinion polls, the 2015 General Election result, and the bookmakers all make that clear.

I was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015 to stand up for the people of Edinburgh South. If re-elected, I will continue to represent and champion their interests. Like me, they voted to stay in the UK and to remain in the EU.

At stake in this election are key sectors in Edinburgh, the jobs and livelihoods of residents, and the opportunities open to future generations.

So, if you don’t want independence, if you don’t want a hard Brexit, if you are fed-up with talk of division and separation and want a politician who will always stand up for Edinburgh South, vote for me.

Now, more than ever the Labour Party motto – “that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone” – is true. Let’s get back to the day job of making things better for the many, not the few.

Ian Murray is the Labour candidate for Edinburgh South