The prize is a fairer Scotland
Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy MP’s acceptance speech in full.
This is a fresh start for Scottish Labour. A new generation is in charge.
But it’s only the beginning. The first change. The first of many to come.
Scotland is changing and so too is Scottish Labour. We have an ambitious programme for leading our party because we are ambitious for Scotland.
But first, I want to thank Neil and Sarah. We may have been competitors during this election, but for the long haul we are colleagues. The leadership contest was a real debate about the future. It’s been good for us all.
And I thank everyone who worked so hard for any and all of the five candidates. It’s been a credit to Scottish Labour. We have shown others why it is far healthier to have a contested leadership election than a coronation.
For 6 weeks we have discussed our priorities. It’s been a healthy debate because difference is not division. Now Scottish Labour is coming together to work on the big issues that unite us.
We are at our best when we are united. What’s true of our party is true of our nation too. This year we decided not to divide up the UK. Now we have to unite Scotland. Because, if we are honest, Scotland is one country but two nations.
Divided not by how we voted in the referendum, but by circumstances. One, the majority. Fulfilled. Doing well. Getting by or getting on. The other, a minority. Falling behind. Denied opportunity. Struggling to escape the hardship of their upbringing. This inequality is wrong. And Scottish Labour’s mission is to end it.
It makes me angry that kids from poor backgrounds are three times less likely to get good grades than those from prosperous backgrounds. It’s wrong that just 220 kids from poorer families – 220 in the whole of Scotland – leave school with the qualifications good enough to get into our best universities. It’s unacceptable that the poorest people live 9 years less than the richest and are three times more likely to take their own lives.
I’m proud of Scotland’s potential but we should all be restless that too few Scots share in it. And it’s Scottish Labour’s mission to build a fairer nation.
At our best, Scottish Labour’s mission and values – to tackle inequality. And that starts with the economy. Backing business. Creating jobs. Because if redistribution is our aim – and it is – then we need more wealth not less. More entrepreneurs, not fewer. A growing middle class that more families are joining. The debate about how we spend money has to start with how we earn it.
I want to unite those living in our old cities, new towns and our island and rural communities.
I want to talk now to the Scots who voted Yes. Labour voters. Supporters of all parties, and none. Know this: I share far more with many of you who voted yes than I do with some of the political leaders who campaigned for No. Together we have a common aim – a better, fairer Scotland. We disagreed on one vote but we have so many common values.
We are united by so much. A Yes or No vote doesn’t divide us now. They can unite us. Unite us, when we say Yes to social justice and when we say No to inequality. That is my over-riding reason for being in politics. For being Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
We want a country that protects our environment and promotes the life chances of every child in Scotland to have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and develop their talents. That is the aim that has driven me. It is at the heart of Labour values past, present and future. It must be at the heart of all our policies.
This is the challenge. This is the mission. Labour did it before. The National Health Service. Slum clearance. New Towns. Modern jobs.
But my aim isn’t to live in our past, it is to inspire the future. Let’s remember what we can achieve when our anger becomes an energy, when our energy turns into a patriotic confidence. That’s when nothing can stop Scotland.
We have done so much together in the past. So our duty is now to do just as much again. And now we have our own Parliament to lead this process. The Scottish Parliament – created by Labour through a referendum. Given more power by Labour through Calman. And now about to get the biggest transfer of power in its short history – supported by Labour.
There can be no excuses now. We have the power, do we have the purpose?
Powers in themselves are trophies to be squabbled over unless they are used to meet these objectives. We will use the powers coming our way for fairness, opportunity and an end to poverty.
As I said, I will work with anyone who claims to share our values to get the best for Scotland. I will build a team of all our talents and involve those from beyond our party. People’s needs are too urgent to wait and too important to be caught in the cross-fire of constant political point-scoring.
Where there is common ground, let’s build on it.
But I will not hesitate to hold the Scottish or UK Governments to account when they don’t do the right thing. That is why I believe that it is right that half a million Scots benefit from a living wage. We need to gain power in Edinburgh so that we can give it away to the rest of Scotland. And why, unlike the SNP, I would introduce a top rate of tax of 50p on those who can pay a little more because social justice doesn’t come on the cheap.
Scottish Labour is changing. We are earning the right to be heard. The right to be trusted. Earning the chance to serve again.
I get it. I was born here. I live here. And I will lead here. I will always put Scotland first.
Scotland first – for its remarkable history. Scotland first – for our fierce pride. Scotland first – for our limitless potential.
We are truly blessed. Nothing is beyond us if we work together. If we tear down the barriers that hold too many Scots back.
The prize is a fairer Scotland.
I would like to invite all Scots regardless of politics or referendum to work together in this great land, with a sense of pride, and build the fairest country on earth.