Rowley quits Labour front bench as Murphy refuses to go

Alex Rowley MSP wants Jim Murphy to stand down from the role of Labour's leader in Scotland.
Alex Rowley MSP wants Jim Murphy to stand down from the role of Labour's leader in Scotland.

Fife MSP Alex Rowley has resigned from Labour’s front bench team at Holyrood in response to Jim Murphy’s refusal to quit as the party’s Scottish leader.

Mr Rowley, who was leader of Fife Council before being elected to represent the Cowdenbeath constituency last year, is standing down from the position as Labour’s spokesperson for local government and community empowerment in the Scottish Parliament.

I believe now, more than ever, that we in Scotland need a strong relevant Labour Party and we will not achieve this under your leadership.

Alex Rowley MSP

Mr Murphy is facing increasing pressure to quit following Labour’s disastrous performance in Scotland in last week’s General Election.

And Mr Rowley has added to that pressure, stating in a letter to Mr Murphy that his continued presence as Scottish Labour leader was an “unhelpful distraction”.

He said: “I believe now, more than ever, that we in Scotland need a strong relevant Labour Party and we will not achieve this under your leadership.”

Mr Rowley spoke up at a meeting of Labour MSPs yesterday (Monday), telling Mr Murphy that he thought his speech on Friday stating that he would stay on and lead Labour into the 2016 election was a mistake, and that it would also be a mistake for the team he put in place, including his chief of staff, to remain in post.

He continued in his letter: “I sincerely hold the view that you continuing as leader whilst not in the Scottish Parliament, and not in an elected position holding a democratic mandate, means you will become an unhelpful distraction from the real issues that Scottish Labour must focus on.

“I have given that a lot of thought and consideration and I concluded that it would be disloyal and damaging to Labour were I not to speak out.”

Alex Rowley’s letter to Jim Murphy:

Dear Jim

I am writing to you to advise that I am, from this morning, standing down from the position as Labour’s spokesperson for Local Government and Community Empowerment in the Scottish Parliament.

I said yesterday at the meeting of Labour MSPs that I thought your speech on Friday stating that you would stay on and lead Labour into the 2016 election was a mistake, and that it would also be a mistake for the team you put in place, including your Chief of Staff, to remain in post.

As you know, I praised the level of hard work and dedication that you brought to the campaign over the last six months and I absolutely agree that the challenges facing Labour in Scotland will not be fixed solely by a change of leadership.However, we have a leader in the Scottish Parliament and much of the focus of the next year will be on the Scottish Parliament and the performance of the SNP government over the last 8 years in Scotland. I sincerely hold the view that you continuing as leader whilst not in the Scottish Parliament, and not in an elected position holding a democratic mandate, means you will become an unhelpful distraction from the real issues that Scottish Labour must focus on.

Over the coming weeks rank and file Labour Party members must have their say on the way forward for Labour in Scotland and I want to be part of that discussion. It is clear from the discussion yesterday that dissent in public from the leadership view is perceived as disloyalty, but I am convinced we need a fundamental change in direction and strategy and therefore cannot sign up to your leadership as one of your shadow team.

From an early age my memories are of my parents talking about politics and the need for working people to organise and fight for a better and fairer society and that is why I joined the Labour Party. It was suggested to me at the weekend that it would be disloyal to the Labour Party/

Party if I were to speak publicly on these issues. I have given that a lot of thought and consideration and I concluded that it would be disloyal and damaging to Labour were I not to speak out. I believe now, more than ever, that we in Scotland need a strong relevant Labour Party and we will not achieve this under your leadership therefore I have no choice but to speak out.

Yours sincerely

Alex Rowley MSP

Cowdenbeath Constituency