Jim Murphy campaign launch speech
Here is the full text of Jim Murphy’s campaign launch speech delivered this morning in Edinburgh.
I’m here today for one thing and one thing only.
I’m here for Scotland.
The country I love. The country we all love.
This is the first of a series of speeches I will make in the next few weeks. I will set out my ideas, but I also want to listen.
Perhaps more than anyone during the referendum I have heard what the Scottish people are saying. Over the summer I was in every corner of our extraordinary country.
I spent 100 days in some of the most beautiful, inspiring and exciting places. Heckled by a horse in a Yes blanket, barked at by a dog with Freedom scribbled onto its side and had a meeting interrupted by dozens of seagulls who were incited by the self-proclaimed Oban Seagull Whisperer.
Despite all of that or perhaps because of it I enjoyed the campaign. I met farmers and fishermen, nurses and carers, engineers and financiers. I met young people struggling to find a job and small business owners determined to create them.
I spoke to proud parents who week after week are forced to set aside their pride to visit food banks so their kids could get a decent meal. I met so many people who weren’t in poverty but who were only just coping. One pay packet away from losing everything.
I am Scottish by birth and Labour by conviction. I’m committed to my party but will put my country above all else. And I know this referendum has changed Scotland and my 100 days tour changed me. The places I visited reinforced my love for Scotland. But the people I met were clear what they wanted and that has left me unsatisfied and hungry for change.
Scotland is my country. The nation I want to lead. But if Labour wants to win we must first change ourselves.
The Scottish people want change – they couldn’t be clearer. They also want better and many want Labour to be part of that improvement.
But when they look at us – they think we’ve not listened. It sure looks like that from where they sit so who can blame them?
I want to apologise because twice Scotland has said they didn’t think we were good enough to govern in Scotland – in 2007 and 2011.
We didn’t listen to them. That has to change. I want a Labour Party that is as proud and confident as the country we seek to govern. I want people to feel a sense of passion and pride in voting Labour again.
But for that to happen I know that I have to apologise because too many Scots thought we weren’t up to the job in the past.
I know that Scottish Labour has to change if we are to govern in Scotland again. I know that I first have to take on the responsibility of changing the Scottish Labour Party before we can have the privilege of changing Scotland.
It’s not our ideals that are out of kilter with Scotland. Scots have backed us to run the UK. It’s not our competence. All our previous Scottish leaders were proud and passionate servants of our party and country. Scots back us to run many of Scotland’s great cities.
Let’s be honest, it’s our vision for Scotland. Or more truthfully – our lack of vision. We have been rejected. Now we have to change.
My approach is straightforward.
I’m committed to more power for Scotland, greater prosperity for our nation and less poverty in our communities.
I think that the politicians of all parties have got to change so that we discuss how to raise money as often as we debate how to spend it. Poverty alleviation is so much tougher without wealth creation.
This is a theme that I want to return to in future speeches. Ours should be a Scottish Labour Party focussed not just on spreading wealth but creating wealth. I’m determined that more people benefit from a fairer share of a bigger economy that a trained workforce and successful businesses can help create.
We were too narrow and too cautious. That has to change.
As I’ve said before the SNP were right to rename what was the Scottish Executive as the Scottish Government. Why didn’t we, when we had the chance?
They were right to use the Saltire as our national brand. We should have done that. Our flag belongs to all of us.
What Scotland has is ambition. The people I’ve listened to across Scotland are bursting with ideas and full of hope for the future. Ambitious for themselves, their families, their neighbourhoods, their countries. They want a Scottish Labour party with an ambition to match.
At our best we have always been the national party of Scotland. Many Scots need us back. And I’m here to say we’re coming back.
Now, it’s often said that the voters are alienated from politics. Well, to be accurate, they used to say that until the referendum.
Give people a big idea, a big choice, and they’ll get involved, get engaged and get active. The levels of engagement in the referendum campaign were extraordinary and exhilarating – and they made the final result even more decisive.
No-one can say that voters chose to stay in the UK by chance.
But the greatest achievement of the referendum was not the result – it was the mandate for change.
Scots want change. And – again – they’re right. We need change.
Those Labour election defeats and the SNP’s obsession about independence have delayed many of the changes that people want. But in a few months we can begin:
- A Living Wage.
- A guarantee of a job for young people.
- A freeze in energy prices.
- £250m more for NHS Scotland.
All Labour policies.
All things we will get when Scottish Labour MPs help us win the next General Election. All polices Scotland won’t get if there is a Tory government re-elected next year.
The response to the referendum result has surprised many.
It was a two horse has where the result wasn’t even close and yet the horse that came last has spent the last six weeks between repeated laps of honour and parading round the winners enclosure.
They have sought to turn defeat into a victory.
I’m not here to kick the SNP today. I want a different type of politics were the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t shout at or about the SNP but instead listens and talks to Scotland.
But in the same way that I accept and want to learn from our last two Scottish election defeats so too must the SNP show a modesty when confronted by the will of more than two million Scots.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the referendum was the passion that it attracted. In coming together to put the referendum result behind us we should keep that passion within us and unleash it to solve Scotland’s problems.
If we do that there’s no problem in Scotland that we can’t solve together.
So I don’t stand here to shout accusations at the SNP. I would rather ask some of the big questions about our country.
Why when we have the power, when we have £1200 higher public spending in Scotland than the rest of the UK do we still tolerate so many wasted lives, so much wasted potential?
Why in a nation with free university tuition do we have the lowest proportion of students from the poorest backgrounds going to university of any part of the UK?
We should celebrate having more good universities than most other countries but why do their doors looked slammed shut to so many of our young people?
Why do live in a country where less than 20% of the poorest kids achieve credit level at Standard grade while almost 60% of kids from the most prosperous homes do? That our poorest children, filled with the possibilities of youth, are three times less likely to get the qualifications they need to open up a lifetime of opportunity is nothing less than a national disgrace.
Why with £170 higher health spending than the rest of the UK do the richest live 9 years longer than the poorest? Why are you one and half times to die of a heart attack in poor areas?
Why in our country are the poorest 7 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for alcohol abuse and 16 times more likely for drug abuse?
Why do we live in a country where you are three times more likely to take your own life if you are poor?
None of us should sleep easily in our beds with that knowledge?
I am standing before you because I got lucky
– not because I won the unwinnable seat of Eastwood in 1997 and have held it ever since – but because of something that can be much more difficult for far too many, which is breaking out of the hardship of their upbringing.
I got involved in politics because of two life experiences. Growing up in a poor but proud family in a Glasgow housing scheme.
We shared two bedrooms with four generations of my family – my brother, my parents, my grandmother and great grandmother.
We had to leave Scotland as my mum and dad were in search of work and we went to apartheid South Africa. There I saw a different and altogether more grotesque form of inequality. I left South Africa to avoid service in the apartheid army. I am neither a coward nor a pacifist but I refused to play any part in enforcing that State.
It was those twin experiences of growing up poor in Glasgow and then white in South Africa that made me want to change this unfair and fragile world of ours.
- Better education for working class kids.
- A rebuilding of our once-great Further Education.
- More homes.
- More power for our councils to get people into work.
All things the Scottish Parliament controls.
That’s where debate should rage.
- Health and education.
- Skills and housing.
- Children and families.
Labour is always at our best when we share the people’s impatience for change.
The great Scottish trade unionist who founded the Scottish and then the UK Labour Parties, Keir Hardie, while standing in a Welsh constituency, quoted the English socialist William Morris’s poetry.
It was there, written on Hardie’s posters:
“O why and for what are we waiting?
While our brothers droop and die,
And on every wind of the heavens
a wasted life goes by.”
Why and for what are we waiting for in Scotland? How many more lives, how much more wasted potential must go by?
We have the powers – and we’re getting more. What we need is the purpose.
We have seen how powerful the Scottish Government can be as a driving force for a single minded agenda under the SNP. It’s just that they used that power for one thing only. The drive for independence.
Just imagine if we took all that energy, and all those powers and harnessed them to the one thing Scotland needs above all else.
Building a society where what you achieve isn’t determined by the family you are born into.
That’s a project, that’s a programme, that’s a purpose. And it is our historic purpose.
We cannot wait any longer. The fight for Scotland starts here. I want to get on with it. And I will not rest until we win it.
I will be with you. On the streets. In your communities. In your workplaces. Working for that change.
And as we do that, let’s remember how and why we win elections. We win by listening. We win by representing people’s hopes. We win by giving Scots the backing they need to achieve their dreams. We win by learning from our mistakes and building on our successes.
We have done so much. Everywhere we travel in Scotland we see monuments to Labour’s past ambitions. NHS hospitals, the hydroelectric dams of the 20th century and the windfarms of the 21st, new schools, new universities, new towns, our Scottish Parliament.
But let’s be proud but not satisfied.
None of this is about one person. It’s about all of us. We must organise and campaign differently. We must think and talk differently.
There’s nothing wrong with Scotland that cannot be fixed, if we do it together.