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Murphy's parting shot at Unite head

Published 16/05/2015

Jim Murphy hit out at the Unite leader, describing his support as a
Jim Murphy hit out at the Unite leader, describing his support as a "political kiss of death"

Outgoing Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has urged UK Labour to distance itself from "the destructive behaviour" of Unite boss Len McCluskey in a parting shot ahead of his promised resignation next month.

The recently ousted East Renfrewshire MP said any UK leader elected with Mr McCluskey's support would carry a political "kiss of death".

Mr McCluskey said he laid the blame for UK Labour's defeat at the general election "very squarely at the feet of Scottish Labour".

Mr Murphy said: "I know over the past few days I have been at the centre of a campaign by the London leadership of Unite the union, and they blame myself or the Scottish Labour Party for the defeat of the UK Labour Party in the general election.

"That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour Party. It's a grotesque insult to our thousands of volunteers from someone who pays occasional fleeting visits to our great country.

"We have to draw the poison out of some of the personalities.

"Sometimes people see it as a badge of honour to have Mr McCluskey's support. I kind of see it as a kiss of death to be supported by that type of politics."

He added: "The Labour Party's problem is not the link with trade unions, or even the relationship with Unite members - far from it.

"It is the destructive behaviour of one high-profile trade unionist.

"One of the things about stepping down is that you can say things in public that so many people in the Labour Party only say in private.

"So whether it is in Scotland or in the contest to come in the UK, we cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one prominent man.

"The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn't serve at the grace of Len McCluskey, and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey.

"The siren voice from behind a big desk in Unite's headquarters in London shouldn't be allowed to instruct what the Scottish Labour Party does.

"Len McCluskey and the Unite leadership in London are the type of people who could back the wrong horse in a one-horse race.

"That is just the way of the world, but it shouldn't be the way of the world in the future and that is a lesson for the entire British Labour party."

Pat Rafferty, leader of Unite in Scotland, said: "Jim has done the decent thing. Scottish Labour needs to recover, re-engage and reform. It can now begin that process."

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