Ian Murray back on Labour frontbench '˜if cabinet poll returns'

Labour's sole Scottish MP has said he will only return to Jeremy Corbyn's frontbench team if the Labour leader reinstates shadow cabinet elections.

Thursday, 22nd September 2016, 10:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:32 pm
Ian Murray was one of the MPs who quit the shadow cabinet en masse. Picture: Greg Macvean

Ian Murray said the move could act as an “olive branch” to win over MPs who have been critical of the veteran left-winger, who looks almost certain to be re-elected as Labour leader tomorrow.

Mr Murray was one of a group of MPs, disgruntled with Mr Corbyn’s leadership, who quit the shadow cabinet en masse.

The former shadow Scottish secretary said he “certainly would” return to that post if shadow cabinet elections were restored, but added that not returning to the election system “makes it much more difficult”.

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Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee has put off a decision on MPs’ demand to vote on who should be members of the frontbench team.

But after a divisive leadership contest, Mr Corbyn has pledged to “wipe the slate clean” and work with critics within the party if re-elected.

Mr Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, said: “I think Jeremy has to make sure he does wipe the slate clean if that is his intention. He has to stop using de-selection lists in his office. And the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) have actually already said we want some unity in the party, and we have put out the olive branch of shadow cabinet elections, and I think Jeremy should accept those shadow cabinet elections as a an olive branch and a way of getting unity within the party.”

Mr Murray said elections to the shadow cabinet are “something Jeremy Corbyn used to support”, adding that the leader had been “one of the biggest opponents of removing shadow cabinet elections”.

He added: “I think if this is a way of uniting the party it’s a good start, it’s an olive branch, and I would suggest Jeremy grabs it with both hands.

“It’s about uniting the party, this is what we all want to do come Saturday, regardless of the result. We have to bring together all elements of the party - that includes the trade unions, the socialist societies, the Members of Parliament, the members of the party.”

He said the distinction between being appointed to the shadow cabinet and being voted on to it is “you would be elected by your peers”.