Jim Murphy has announced his intention to resign as Scottish Labour leader next month following a “comprehensive” reappraisal of the party.
The recently ousted East Renfrewshire MP took the decision despite surviving a vote of no confidence at a meeting of the Scottish Labour executive today, in a tight vote of 17 to 14 in his favour following over three hours of deliberations.
He said party the remains divided with a faction affiliated to the trade unions, which opposed his election as leader five months ago, refusing to accept the executive’s endorsement today.
Mr Murphy will resign next month following a “comprehensive report” on his proposals for the future, including a move to one-member-one-vote leadership elections and a plan to devolve Scotland’s pending powers beyond Holyrood down to local communities.
He has also urged UK Labour to distance itself from “the destructive behaviour” of Len McCluskey, saying the Unite boss should not be allowed to pick the next UK leader.
Acting UK Labour leader Harriet Harman said Mr Murphy has served with “incredible energy, purpose and dignity”, while SNP leader Nicola Stugeon said he “deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in.”
Mr Murphy said: “It is clear that a small minority who didn’t accept my election as leader of the Scottish Labour Party just five months ago won’t accept the vote of the executive today and that will continue to divide the party.
“Today I received more support in the executive vote than I did from members of the executive when I stood for election five months ago.
“When I table that report at next month’s meeting of the Scottish Labour Party executive, I will also table my resignation as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
“It will be for the party executive to decide whether it accepts the reforms proposed, but a party in such urgent need of reform blocks those changes at its peril.”
He added: “It will cover our plan for earning back the support of Scottish voters, a strategic overview of the voters that we need to win back, and the challenges that we face for the party on the ground ahead of the next two sets of Scottish elections.
“A clear understanding of Scottish voters’ concerns and aspirations.
“A plan for reshaping the Scottish Labour Party and using all of our talents, widening our membership and ensuring the best possible range of talents from our membership and beyond.
“And above all, defending the rights of Labour Party members and putting them back at the heart of our organisation.
“We should have a system of one member, one vote as the UK Labour Party has for the election of all future leaders.
“I will also in that report provide a fresh assessment of our policy platform, preparing for using new powers, and then bringing them closer to the voters and out of the Holyrood parliament.
“Looking also at how we defend solidarity across the UK in the face of rising nationalisms, both north and south of the border.”
Mr Murphy announced his intention to resign at a press conference in the Novotel Hotel in Glasgow, across the road from the party’s Bath Street headquarters which was earlier besieged by a small band of anti-Labour protesters.
Police were called after two of the protesters gained access to the building and tried to disrupt the meeting.
Ms Harman said: “Jim has been a hugely important figure in the Labour Party. He leaves with the best wishes and thanks of our movement.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “I wish Jim Murphy all the very best for the future. Leadership is not easy and he deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in.”
Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said his party is ready to replace Scottish Labour as the SNP’s main opposition at Holyrood.
“People haven’t left Labour because of the trade unions, but because the party itself long ago strayed from its principles,” he said.