From Eastwood To Exit For Murphy

Jim Murphy's departure as Scottish Labour leader brings to an end a political career spanning 20 years.

The former MP initially vowed to carry on as leader after losing his East Renfrewshire seat in the Scottish Labour wipeout at the general election.

However, he then announced his intention to resign last month, despite winning a narrow vote of confidence from the party's executive.

He formally stepped down at a meeting of Scottish Labour's Executive Committee in Glasgow today.

Mr Murphy's once safe majority was eliminated in the general election last month as Kirsten Oswald swept to victory with 23,564 votes to Labour's 19,295.

The Scottish Labour leader joined a string of high-profile colleagues on the casualty list as the SNP won across Scotland.

Mr Murphy, 47, was first elected to Westminster in 1997, the year Tony Blair and New Labour swept into Downing Street.

A relative unknown at the time, he had been selected as the candidate for the Eastwood constituency on the outskirts of Glasgow - which at the time had the largest Tory majority in all of Scotland.

But the 1997 election saw the Tories routed north of the border, losing all of their Scottish seats, and Mr Murphy was voted in to the House of Commons.

He held a number of ministerial roles under Mr Blair, including both minister for employment and welfare reform and Europe minister.

When Gordon Brown became prime minister he appointed the father-of-three as his Secretary of State for Scotland, giving him additional responsibility for retaining Scottish seats at the next general election.

While Labour failed to win in the 2010 ballot, the party returned the same number of Scottish MPs as it had in 2005, securing 41 of 59 seats north of the border.

Mr Murphy was a key figure in Labour's shadow cabinet after the election, first as shadow defence secretary, then as shadow international development secretary - though he gave up this post to focus on his bid to become Scottish Labour leader.

He also played a prominent part in what was the defining issue of Scottish politics in 2014 - the independence referendum.

The campaign over Scotland's future in the UK saw him return to traditional soap-box style politics, touring the streets of Scotland and speaking to members of the public from his Irn-Bru crates - though not all those he spoke to agreed with him and he was even egged while on a visit to Kirkcaldy, Fife.

When he was elected Scottish Labour leader, he pledged his focus would be on combating inequalities in Scotland.

But it was not enough to see him hang on to his Westminster seat and the resultant post-election party infighting has proved to be his undoing.

Despite surviving a vote of no confidence he said a faction strongly affiliated to the trade unions has refused to accept the result, and he has stepped aside in the hope that the divisions can be healed.

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