by Our News Desk
SCOTTISH Labour should be independent from the Westminster wing of the party, former MP Katy Clark argued yesterday.
Ms Clark, who had represented North Ayrshire & Arran since 2005, made the call for a “separate” party after she and 39 other Scottish Labour MPs lost their seats to the SNP at last week’s election.
Speaking at the Aslef train drivers’ union conference in Southend, she said Labour had lost touch with working-class communities during the New Labour years.
And she said: “We need to seriously assess where we are and put forward a strategy that will win people back.
“In Scotland that means having a separate Labour Party deciding it own policy because the type of policies coming out of Westminster do not relate to what people want in Scotland.
“They don’t relate to what people want in England, either.
“I was told by the whips that every policy had to be about winning Middle England, and winning those seats, I was told the interests of my constituents weren’t the most important thing.”
The conference also heard calls for Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy to resign after he lost his own seat in the near-wipeout, which only Ian Murray in Edinburgh South survived.
Motherwell delegate Jim Baxter said: “Labour say the electorate isn’t listening. No! The Labour Party isn’t listening. We need to get rid of Jim Murphy.”
Ms Clark replied: “It’s not just the message, but the messenger, and Jim Murphy should consider his position.”
Sister union Unison agreed that “radical change” was needed. In a statement yesterday, the union noted: “‘The problems of Scottish Labour long pre-date this election and the current leadership.
“It is unprecedented for a party leader not to stand down after such a defeat, particularly when he loses his own seat.
The campaign may have been energetic, but it lacked focus and clearly voters do not regard Jim Murphy as a credible messenger of Scottish Labour values.
“We do not believe it is Unison’s place to initiate a change in leadership. However, if there is a wider movement proposing change Unison Labour Link would not oppose it.”