|Born||James Francis Murphy|
|Children||2 sons 1 daughter|
|Member of||Community Security Trust|
British Labour Party politician
James Francis "Jim" Murphy is a British Labour Party politician who, until 7 May 2015 when he was defeated at the UK General Election by the SNP's Kirsten Oswald, was Member of Parliament (MP) for East Renfrewshire. Murphy has been heavily criticised for not standing down as Scottish Labour leader after his defeat.
Previously, up to 2 November 2014, Jim Murphy was Shadow Secretary of State for International Development when he stood down to face "the challenges of reforming Scottish Labour and battling to lead the party in Scotland." He was previously the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence from 2010 to 2013, and from 2008 to 2010 he served in Gordon Brown's Cabinet as Secretary of State for Scotland. Prior to this, he was the Minister for Europe from 2007 to 2008, the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform from 2006 to 2007, and the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office from 2005 to 2006. Murphy was also the co-chair of the Review of the Labour Party in Scotland, commissioned by Ed Miliband in May 2011.
Following the resignation of Johann Lamont as leader of the Scottish Labour Party in October 2014, Jim Murphy announced that he would be a candidate in the election to replace her. Murphy's leadership bid has failed to get any trade union backing and his detractors describe him as a right-wing neo-con, citing as evidence his membership of such groups as The Henry Jackson Society and Labour Friends of Israel.
On 13 December 2014, the BBC reported that Jim Murphy had been elected as the new leader of Scottish Labour beating competition from MSPs Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack for the job. Replacing Anas Sarwar MP, Kezia Dugdale MSP was elected the party's new deputy leader. Murphy, who won the contest with 55.77% of the vote under the party's electoral college system, said:
- "Today is a fulfilment of a dream for me. This is a fresh start for the Scottish Labour Party. Scotland is changing and so too is Scottish Labour. I'm ambitious for our party because I'm ambitious for our country."
On 19 September 2009, one month after Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill granted Abdelbaset al-Megrahi compassionate release from jail, it was reported that Jim Murphy had the power to overrule MacAskill's decision:
- Gordon Brown's government could have used its powers under the Scotland Act to challenge the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, it has emerged. Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy could have overruled Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and stopped the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi if the case was deemed to have breached "international obligations".
- Senior diplomats have insisted there was a "clear understanding" between the UK and the US that Megrahi would serve out his sentence in Scotland. The US Justice and State departments have also insisted they had been given assurances in the 1990s that Megrahi would remain imprisoned under Scottish jurisdiction.
- The disclosure angered the families of American victims of the bombing yesterday and fuelled resentment at the way in which the UK government distanced itself from the decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds, arguing it was a matter solely for Scottish ministers and the Scottish judiciary.
- Andrew Mackinlay, a senior Labour MP, has now argued for the Scotland Act to be tightened to allow Westminster to override Scottish Government decisions if they have foreign policy implications for the whole of the UK.
- "Since there appears to be a provision in the Scotland Act, it should at least have been examined," he said. "It is inconceivable that a Labour secretary of state or (UK) government ministers, including the Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary, would not have looked at this or at least asked the Attorney General for advice. Jim Murphy needs to answer why he did not use this provision."
- The key part of the Scotland Act says: "If the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that any action proposed to be taken by a member of the Scottish Executive would be incompatible with any international obligations, he may by order direct that the proposed action shall not be taken." It goes on to say Scottish laws can be revoked if "the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe (it) to be incompatible with any international obligations or the interests of defence or national security".
- Mackinlay, who serves on the foreign affairs committee that is launching an investigation into US-UK relations and the impact of the Lockerbie decision, has also called for the Scotland Act to give Westminster the final say on any decisions affecting foreign policy:
- "There should be a double lock on issues of national security and foreign policy," he said. "It would be inconceivable for such a decision to be taken by federal governments in the US, Canada, Germany or Australia."
- Frank Duggan, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and a Washington-based lawyer, said:
- "I didn't know there was a provision like that. I just wish that the British government had used it to overturn the decision, which caused us so much grief. But it is clear that the British government just didn't want to do that."
- However, a spokesman for Murphy dismissed suggestions that he could have intervened:
- "There were no national security implications (in Megrahi's release]. It was entirely a matter for Scottish ministers. There was no power for the Scottish Secretary to stop Scottish ministers making these decisions. Devolution gives the Scottish Government the right to take decisions and it is within their rights to take the wrong decisions." He added that there were no international obligations and no defence implications either from releasing Megrahi.
- But Sir Christopher Meyer, who was ambassador to the US at the time of the Lockerbie bombing, last night said there was a "clear understanding" that Megrahi would serve his full sentence in Scotland:
- "I thought the right thing to do was to let him fight his appeal in court, and the fact that he may have died was beside the point," Meyer said.
- Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 in which 270 people died, was released last month from Greenock Prison on the grounds that he is suffering from prostate cancer and only has weeks to live. But his release has been followed by bitter argument, including over Westminster's reluctance to get involved. Last week, Labour's former First Minister Jack McConnell said the UK and Holyrood governments should have discussed the release because of the wide-ranging ramifications.
In 2012 Jim Murphy was among a group of Westminster MPs named as benefiting from up to £20,000 per year expenses to rent accommodation in London, at the same time as letting out property they owned in the city.
On 3 July 2013, Murphy criticised the Unite union for "bullying" and "overstepping the mark" for allegedly interfering with the 2013 Labour Party Falkirk candidate selection process. The Labour Party later cleared Unite of any wrongdoing.
On 7 October 2013, Murphy was demoted<refhttp://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danhodges/100240618/ed-miliband-and-the-strange-case-of-the-vanishing-blairites/</ref> to the post of Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.
Apartheid Jim Murphy
On 29 October 2014, Scottish Labour leadership contender Jim Murphy came under criticism for his alleged links to P W Botha's apartheid regime:
- The only MP who wants the job and is remotely credible is Apartheid Jim Murphy. And this is a problem for Labour for a few reasons.
- Murphy sits in Westminster. Given their two most senior folk already sit there, another one there wouldn’t really show that Labour is committed to Holyrood and takes it seriously, as Lamont spat (failing, incidentally, to recognise the only reason she’s at Holyrood is because Labour don’t take it seriously). So Murphy needs a seat in Holyrood. The only problem there is that there isn’t such a thing as a safe Labour seat in Holyrood – their largest majority is just over 3,000 and it isn’t difficult to see the circumstances under which Murphy could face such concerted opposition in Eastwood (the most likely seat in which he’d stand, given it mirrors his seat in East Renfrewshire and of which the current occupant is his familiar, one Ken Macintosh) that he would lose the seat in a Patrick Gordon-Walker style scenario.
- This would leave the Labour Party leaderless over Christmas for a new election, probably into February. Not the best preparation for a May general election, the first since standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories against the working class and being soundly beaten in Labour heartlands across the west and central Scotland.
- Other Murphy problems are more related to him as a person. For instance, it is generally acknowledged that the event which finally pushed Labour into their current condition was the Iraq War, which aftermath was partly responsible for its shattering defeat to the SNP in 2007, and failure to repent for its even more shattering defeat in 2011.
- But Jim Murphy loves war. He was a cheerleader for the Iraq War. Did he know the British government’s "evidence" was a lie? I would suggest he ought to have done. He is a fanatical Zionist, who is a member of the shadowy Labour Friends of Israel group, through which he has developed some very worrying far-right friends in the United States of America.
- And, of course, his past is shrouded in controversy. When his family chose to move to Apartheid South Africa in order to benefit from the racially-discriminatory system, condemned by the UN decades previously, he chose, as an adult, to remain at a private, whites-only school which banned black children from enrolling. His school was so extreme that it also produced Wouter Basson, the pro-Apartheid extremist who spent his career working at the head of a team developing chemical weapons for the Apartheid regime.
- Murphy was so "distressed" by these experiences that, as he admitted at a raucous meeting in Shawlands during the referendum campaign, he took up arms and joined P W Botha’s South African Defence Force in defence of the Apartheid system.
- A Zionist ideologue with a dodgy past. A war criminal. An expenses fraudster. A millionaire with shadowy US links. It’s just like Blair all over again. Let’s hope he gets it. A Murphy leadership of Labour would be the political version of Dignitas for them. This is Scotland’s chance to rid ourselves of an organisation which has been a malignant cancer upon the soul of Scottish society for a generation. An organisation which no longer reflects or looks like the working people of Scotland but is distinguishable only in terms of degree, not ideology, from the Tory friends they spent so long in coalition with against the people of Scotland. An organisation which is no longer wanted, or relevant.
Commentary by Hugh Kerr
Marking the launch on 1 November 2014 of Jim Murphy's leadership campaign, Hugh Kerr wrote this commentary on Newsnet Scotland:
- Jim Murphy launched his leadership campaign on Saturday morning in the somehow appropriately named King Khalid Building of the Surgeons' Hall, Edinburgh. Older readers will remember King Khalid was the King of Saudi Arabia, responsible for the biggest-ever arms deal between the UK and any foreign government. It was a deal which British Aerospace gained by extensive bribery of Saudi officials. Jim of course previously was a defence minister under Tony Blair and was a great supporter of the deal, and may have been relieved when Blair stopped the subsequent inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office into the alleged corruption because "it was against national security". So it may have been very appropriate for Jim to feel quite at home in the King Khalid hall!
- He launched his campaign to an enthusiastic audience of invited Labour supporters. My friend Craig Murray (our ex ambassador to Uzbekistan, sacked by Jack Straw for protesting about torture) accompanied me to the coffee session preceding the launch. He had the rather surreal experience of being greeted by Jim with "great to see you again, thank you so much for coming". Craig had never met Jim before.
- Craig spoke to six people at the coffee hall before the meeting, and reported:
- “All of them said they were working for the Labour Party.”
- This is the reality of Labour in Scotland today; take away the staff of MPs, MSPs, MEPs and councillors and the party is a hollow shell. They claim 13,000 members but a Labour source tells me that only 8,000 ballot papers were issued for the last ballot for MEP selection, so we might conclude that there are only 8,000 real members in Scotland. Jim was introduced by a new young student member, Shona, who sounded very like a character from a party political broadcast:
- "I want to help make a better Scotland for my children.”
- His speech was a rather pedestrian pitch to the faithful, but very much from a left-wing perspective. He emphasised his humble origins, four generations living in a two-bedroom property in a Glasgow scheme and he had to sleep in his granny’s top drawer. His family had to move to South Africa for work, he said, but he came back to Scotland to avoid conscription:
- "I was poor in Scotland and white in South Africa, and that's what made me a socialist," he explained.
- Funnily enough he never mentioned his nine years as a student politician – he didn’t gain a degree, but he did get a Labour seat! He spoke of the poverty, inequality and poor health of the people of Scotland, such as you would never have thought he had been part of a Labour Government for 13 years at Westminster, including a period as Secretary of State for Scotland. His comrades had also been in charge of Scotland at Holyrood for eight years while all these inequalities had been present!
- It is clear from all this that he intends to reinvent himself as "Jim Murphy, Scottish and socialist". Of course the irony about all the areas he outlined is that to abolish poverty, inequality and poor health you need to control all the levers of fiscal and social levers of taxation, social security and wealth. He will no doubt claim it is possible to abolish them with just a little more devolution.
- I asked him a question about Trident:
- "Jim, when the Labour Party in Scotland were last allowed to discuss Trident they voted heavily against it. When you lead the Labour Party in Scotland what will your line be?"
- He replied:
- "Hugh it's nice to see you again. I read some of your stuff and enjoy some of it! Of course I want to get rid of all nuclear weapons but in this dangerous modern world when many countries like Iran are trying to get nuclear weapons it's not a time for us to give them up.”
- This of course is what I expected. Jim Murphy is not only an arch Blairite, he is a hawk on foreign policy, a keen supporter of the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. He urged the bombing of Syria last year when the House of Commons voted against it. Murphy is also closely connected to US interests as an advisor to the Henry Jackson Society, a right wing foreign policy group.
- His audience of Labour full timers liked his answer but I suspect that his support of Trident will go down rather badly with the few socialists left in the party and many trade unionists who vote Labour. However the truth is that many of the individual members left in Labour are no longer socialists. Don’t forget that David Miliband and Ken Macintosh secured victories in the constituency and MPs’ section it was only the trade union vote that won the result for Ed and Johann. I suspect Neil Findlay will get a decent trade union vote but not a majority, and Sarah Boyack will get a decent number of MSPs’ votes, but not enough.
- He was warm and effusive about his opponents for the leadership, but it is clear that he thinks is going to win and has no need to attack them. I also think he is going to win. It is clear that he has a well organised team around him, including ex Better Together head Blair McDougall and John McTernan, the spin doctor who increasingly resembles the Malcolm Tucker character in TV’s "The Thick of It" (I think he will regard that as a compliment!)
- Jim Murphy also has the party machine – official and unofficial – behind him. It makes for a formidable combination for Findlay or Boyack to overcome.
Upon confirmation of Murphy's election as Scottish Labour leader on 13 December 2014, Hugh Kerr commented on Facebook:
- "Is this the end of the Labour Party in Scotland?"
- "Jim Murphy, Labour MP for East Renfrewshire"
- "Jim Murphy's career hangs by a thread as Labour MSP and union pile criticism on his leadership"
- "Murphy stands down from Shadow Cabinet post"
- "To Win Just Once"
- "Jim Murphy MP named Scottish Labour leader"
- "Powers to stop Megrahi move held by Brown"
- Eddie Barnes: United we flounder Scotland on Sunday 6 July 2013
- Murphy says Unite "well and truly overstepped the mark" in Falkirk West; accessed 5 March 2014.
- Unite cleared over Labour vote-rigging row; accessed 5 March 2014.
- Doubts over Trident as Jim Murphy is demoted, The Scotsman; accessed 5 March 2014.
- Labour's modernisers lose out to high-flying intake, FT.com; accessed 5 March 2014.
- Ed Miliband axes Blairites from his shadow cabinet, The Telegraph; accessed 5 March 2014.
- Labour reshuffle: Rachel Reeves promoted to shadow work and pensions secretary, bbc.co.uk; accessed 5 March 2014.
- "Labour in crisis: but surely even they wouldn't be stupid enough...."
- "Murphy's launch backed by the party machine"
- "Is this the end of the Labour Party in Scotland?"