|The Right Honourable
|Leader of the Scottish Labour Party|
13 December 2014 – 13 June 2015
|Preceded by||Johann Lamont|
|Succeeded by||Iain Gray (acting)|
|Shadow Secretary of State for International Development|
7 October 2013 – 2 November 2014
|Preceded by||Ivan Lewis|
|Succeeded by||Mary Creagh|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Defence|
8 October 2010 – 7 October 2013
|Preceded by||Bob Ainsworth|
|Succeeded by||Vernon Coaker|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland|
11 May 2010 – 8 October 2010
|Leader||Harriet Harman (Acting)
|Preceded by||David Mundell|
|Succeeded by||Ann McKechin|
|Secretary of State for Scotland|
3 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Des Browne|
|Succeeded by||Danny Alexander|
|Minister of State for Europe|
28 June 2007 – 3 October 2008
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Geoff Hoon|
|Succeeded by||Caroline Flint|
|Minister for the Cabinet Office
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
2 November 2005 – 5 May 2006
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||John Hutton|
|Succeeded by||Hilary Armstrong|
|Member of Parliament
for East Renfrewshire
1 May 1997 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Allan Stewart|
|Succeeded by||Kirsten Oswald|
|46th President of the National Union of Students|
|Preceded by||Lorna Fitzsimons|
|Succeeded by||Douglas Trainer|
|Born||James Francis Murphy
23 August 1967
James Francis Murphy (born 23 August 1967) is a Scottish Labour Party politician who was the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party between 2014 and 2015 and was the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Renfrewshire from 2005 until 2015.
He previously served as Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office from 2005 to 2006, Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform from 2006 to 2007, the Minister of State for Europe from 2007–08, and the Secretary of State for Scotland in the Cabinet from 2008–10.
Murphy was born in Glasgow and raised in a flat in Arden. He was educated at St. Robert Bellarmine School in Glasgow until 1979, when he and his family emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, after his father became unemployed. In Cape Town, he attended Milnerton High School.
In 1985, Murphy returned to Scotland aged 18 to avoid having to serve in the South African Defence Force. He studied Politics and European Law at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He was a student at Strathclyde for 9 years during which time he held the posts of President of both NUS Scotland and NUS, but did not graduate from the university.
During his time at university he was elected President of the Scottish National Union of Students, one of the "special region" organisations within the NUS, serving from 1992 until 1994. Murphy then took a further sabbatical from university in 1994 to serve as the President of the National Union of Students, an office which he held from 1994 to 1996, during which time he was a member of Labour Students. As NUS President, he also served concurrently as a Director of Endsleigh Insurance from 1994 to 1996.
In 1995, the NUS dropped its opposition to the abolition of the student grant. This was in line with what had become Labour Party policy, but was contrary to the policy that had been agreed at that year's NUS Conference in Derby. He was subsequently condemned by a House of Commons early day motion, introduced by Ken Livingstone and signed by 17 other Labour MPs, for "intolerant and dictatorial behaviour".
In 1996, upon ceasing to be NUS President, Murphy became Special Projects Manager of the Scottish Labour Party. He was also selected to stand as the Labour Party candidate in the seat of Eastwood at the 1997 general election.
Member of Parliament
The previous incumbent of the Eastwood constituency, Allan Stewart of the Conservative Party, had been forced to resign his ministerial post after brandishing a pickaxe at demonstrators who were protesting at the construction of the M77 motorway. Stewart was hospitalised after suffering a nervous breakdown in March 1997, and subsequently withdrew completely from politics.
From 1999 to 2001, Murphy was a member of the Public Accounts Select Committee, which oversees public expenditure. In February 2001, he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Helen Liddell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, after the resignation of Frank Roy over the Carfin Grotto fiasco. Upon becoming a PPS, he stood down from his previous other roles as the Vice Chair of the Labour Party's Treasury, Northern Ireland and Culture, Media and Sport Committees.
At the 2001 general election he was re-elected as MP for Eastwood, with an increased majority of 9,141. In June 2002, he was appointed as a government whip, with responsibility for the Scotland Office and the Northern Ireland Office. His responsibilities were expanded in November 2002 to include the Department of Trade and Industry, and again in June 2003 to cover the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development. He was the Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel from 2001 to 2002, and is a member of the Henry Jackson Society's Political Council.
For the 2005 general election, the Eastwood constituency was renamed East Renfrewshire, although the boundaries were unchanged. Murphy was re-elected with a majority of 6,657 and subsequently promoted to ministerial rank as the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office. His responsibilities in that role included the promotion of e-government, better regulation and modernising public services. He was promoted in May 2006 to become the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, and again in June 2007 when he was appointed Minister of State for Europe.
In January 2006, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office, Jim Murphy was the government minister responsible for introducing the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 in the House of Commons. The Act was very controversial, because of a perception that it is an Enabling Act substantially removing the ancient British constitutional restriction on the Executive introducing and altering laws without assent or scrutiny by Parliament. In The Times, journalist Daniel Finkelstein dubbed it the "Bill to End All Bills", and Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament David Howarth called it the "Abolition of Parliament Bill". The Green Party passed a motion at their conference against the Bill, saying "the Bill threatens to shatter the foundations of democracy".
In October 2008, Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Murphy to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Scotland, with additional responsibility for retaining Scottish seats at the next general election. At the 2010 general election, the Labour Party held every seat they had won in Scotland in 2005, although they lost the election overall. Murphy was subsequently one of the two campaign managers for David Miliband's failed bid for the leadership of the Labour Party, along with Douglas Alexander. Following the election of Ed Miliband, Murphy was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Defence on 8 October 2010. In this role Murphy criticised moves to boycott Israel.
In 2011, The Daily Telegraph published documents, compiled by a senior US official at the US Embassy in London and published by WikiLeaks, stating that throughout 2009, Murphy had a leading role in organising the support of opposition parties in promoting the implementation of the Commission on Scottish Devolution's recommendations. The aim was to "block an independence referendum" in Scotland.
In 2010, a commission chaired by Sir Thomas Legg demanded Murphy repay £577.46 in expenses which he had overclaimed. He did not appeal, and repaid the money in full. Expenses documents made available showed he also claimed over one million pounds between 2001 and 2012. In 2007/8 he claimed £3,900 for food, £2,284 for petty cash and £4,884 for a new bathroom. He claimed £249 for a TV set and a further £99 for a TV stand; £1762.50 of taxpayers money paid for Murphy's website whilst further claims included Labour party adverts in the local press. He claimed almost £2000 of public cash to pay private accountants to handle his tax returns. In 2012 Murphy was among a group of 27 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. Although the practice did not break rules, it has been characterised as a "loophole" that allows politicians to profit from Commons allowances. He also designated his constituency home in Glasgow as his second home for which he claimed £780 a month in mortgage interest payments in 2007/8. Murphy had previously apologised "on behalf of all politicians" for the expenses scandal in 2009.
Murphy co-chaired the review of the Labour Party in Scotland with Sarah Boyack, commissioned by Ed Miliband in May 2011 in response to the landslide victory by the Scottish National Party in the Scottish general election of 2011, which reported in late 2011.
On 3 July 2013, Murphy criticised the Unite trade union for "bullying" and "overstepping the mark" for allegedly interfering with the selection of a candidate in Falkirk. A Labour Party investigation later cleared Unite of any wrongdoing. Later that year, Murphy was demoted to the post of Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.
In October 2013, Murphy told a radio show that,
|“||From what I can sense, the very best women in our armed forces are as remarkable as the very best men and they should be given that chance if they meet the criteria, and the criteria isn’t based on gender, it’s based upon capability, skill, professionalism, discipline and the ability to innovate on the front line... If I had the privilege of being the Defence Secretary after the next election one of the important decisions I would take would be a fundamental review of any and all of the evidence, but in particular learning from our allies. And on the basis that it's good enough for the US, Canada, France and others, it would appear to be good enough for the United Kingdom. So I think it's important that we look at that, and only if there's a convincing argument against it should we prevent it in future.||”|
Scottish independence referendum campaign
During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Jim Murphy gained prominence in the media for his role in the "No" campaign, due to his "100 Streets in 100 Days" tour, which saw him hold street-corner meetings across Scotland standing on an Irn-Bru crate to address the public in an attempt to convince them to vote against Scottish independence.
Murphy suspended the tour on 28 August 2014, after an egg was thrown at him by a member of the public in Kirkcaldy. Murphy claimed that this was the result of an orchestrated attack by mobs of protesters organised by the Yes Scotland campaign in a deliberate attempt to intimidate him. The man responsible was a local resident who was a supporter of Scottish independence, who alleged that Jim Murphy had not answered a question asked of him. Pleading guilty to assault, he denied being part of an official Yes Scotland campaign of intimidation.
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
Election to leadership and early activities
When Johann Lamont resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party on 24 October 2014, Scottish Labour MP Ian Davidson said that Murphy's allies had "conducted a whispering campaign against her" and that "we are in the middle of a coup". Following the resignation, Murphy announced that he would be a candidate in the election to replace her. He resigned from the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet in November 2014. The Guardian's Kevin McKenna has argued that Jim Murphy's tour during the Scottish 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign "wasn't really about his new-found enthusiasm for the union... [but] was, instead, a three-month job interview for the post of leader of the Labour party in Scotland. In announcing his candidacy Murphy stated he would end the electoral losing streak of Labour in Scotland. On 13 December 2014, Murphy was elected as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, having secured 56% of the vote under the party's electoral college system.
In December 2014 Murphy called for alcohol to be reintroduced at football matches in Scotland. It was banned in 1980 following a drink-fuelled riot at an Old Firm match. Mhari McGowan, representing Assist, a domestic violence support organisation, called the proposal "absolutely crazy". Ruth Davidson of the Conservative Party had previously called for a review of the policy in 2013. The other main Scottish parties support leaving the ban in place, as do several health experts who signed a letter to The Herald warning against any relaxation of the policy.
In February 2015, Murphy claimed that four times as many NHS operations were being cancelled in Scotland as in England. When it emerged that the claim was based on a misreading of the statistics, Murphy had to delete a YouTube video and a tweet he had made capitalising on the false claim.
2015 General Election
On his election as party leader Murphy said he was confident under his leadership Labour would not lose any MPs to the SNP in the British general election of May 2015. On 27 February 2015, Murphy announced that he would again stand for the Westminster parliamentary seat of East Renfrewshire in the election. In the run-up to the United Kingdom general election, 2015, Murphy predicted that a late swing would save Labour in spite of unfavourable polls.
In the event on 7 May 2015 Labour were all but wiped out in Scotland by a Scottish National Party landslide. Murphy lost his own East Renfrewshire seat to the SNP's Kirsten Oswald, leading to calls for his resignation. The SNP won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster and Scottish Labour lost 40 of the 41 seats it was defending. As well as Murphy, other senior Labour casualties included Douglas Alexander and Margaret Curran.
Murphy was criticised for his role in the defeat. His chief of staff John McTernan and strategy head Blair McDougall were also criticised. Criticism was made of Labour party resources in Scotland being assigned to favoured candidates such as Alexander and Curran. Former Scottish health minister Andy Kerr remarked, "My worry is that Jim’s a product of the system who saw Scotland through the prism of their deep hatred for the SNP; they forgot to see Scotland through the prism of the Scottish people and how they are changing."
Following his defeat, Murphy said he would remain Leader of Scottish Labour. First to call for Murphy to resign from being leader was unseated MP Ian Davidson who said, "Morally, as the man who has led us to the biggest ever disaster that Labour has suffered in Scotland ... of course he can’t continue."
Pat Rafferty of Unite called for Murphy's resignation. Kevin Lindsay of ASLEF followed. Neil Findlay MSP resigned from Murphy's shadow cabinet citing the election results. MSP Alex Rowley added his voice to calls for Murphy's resignation. Like Findlay, Rowley resigned from Murphy's shadow cabinet. MSP Elaine Smith said, "They are putting loyalty to the Labour Party ahead of personal career or position and I think Jim Murphy should do likewise and step down as leader."
After narrowly surviving a vote of no confidence by 17 votes to 14 at a party meeting in Glasgow, Murphy announced on 16 May 2015 that he intended to step down as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party in June. (Three of the 17 votes in support of Murphy included that of Murphy himself, that of Ian Murray MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Labour's only MP in Scotland, and that of the Labour Peer Lady Meta Ramsay of Cartvale). At the same press conference Murphy also stated that he wanted to have a successor as leader in place by the summer, and confirmed he would not be standing for a seat at the Scottish Parliament in the 2016 general election. He added that Scottish Labour was the "least modernised part of the Labour movement", and commented that problem with the Labour party lay not with the trade unionists, but with Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, whose behaviour he described as "destructive". Murphy's resignation took effect on 1 June 2015; While Kezia Dugdale, as Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, would normally act as leader until a permanent leader is elected, former Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray will become acting leader as Dugdale resigned the Deputy Leadership in order to run for the Leadership vacated by Murphy.
Henry Jackson Society membership
Jim Murphy is on the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society, a cross-partisan, transatlantic think tank named in honour of Cold War anti-communist US Senator Henry M. Jackson. The society advocates an interventionist foreign policy by both non-military and military methods.
As Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Murphy gave a speech at an HJS event entitled 'A New Model for Intervention: How the UK Responds to Extremism in North and West Africa and Beyond’, arguing for the UK to remain engaged in defence policy beyond its borders, while learning lessons from past experiences.
In January 2015, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scottish Greens called on Murphy to resign from the Henry Jackson Society. Sandra White, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said: "Jim Murphy should consider his position as an adviser to this right-wing, neo-con organisation – it is an extraordinary role for a Labour leader in Scotland to be in, and a huge embarrassment to his party." In response the Henry Jackson Society reaffirmed its cross-partisan nature, saying "we believe ... the broadest possible coalition of politicians – of which Jim Murphy is just one of 15 Labour parliamentarians to do so through our political advisory council – should engage with such ideas [of foreign policy]."
Murphy was passing near to the Clutha Pub in Stockwell Street in Glasgow on the night of 29 November 2013, shortly after a Police Scotland helicopter crashed onto the roof of the pub, killing 10 people and injuring 31 others. He was later interviewed about the aftermath of the accident.
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He enrolled at Strathclyde University where he became politically active and was elected President of the National Union of Students. He did not finish his degree.
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- Unite cleared over Labour vote-rigging row. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
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- Official website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Profile: Jim Murphy BBC News Online, 17 October 2002