After his first major speech since Labour lost all but one of its Scottish seats in May’s election wipeout, Murray said: “Labour needs its first female prime minister, but I also think Yvette has done a lot to understand the situation in Scotland.
“She has the determination, she has the confidence and I think that the policy platform she would put in place would make her an incredibly strong leader.”
Asked whether Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Trident stance would make him more appealing to Scottish voters, Murray replied with a degree of sarcasm that may infuriate older party members: “I’ve got no problem with Jeremy. I think it’s about time the Labour party had a leader who is a pensioner who has been an MP for 32 years. We’re a broad party.”
He added that the debate over Trident policy “should be conducted within an environment of respect rather than trying to make divisions and wedges”.
Questioned on the prospects for Scottish Labour – which will elect its own leader next month – at the 2016 Holyrood elections, the new shadow Scottish secretary accepted that the party faced a significant challenge.
Reaching for a footballing analogy worthy of Scottish Labour’s outgoing leader, Jim Murphy, he suggested: “It would be a significant achievement to be applauded off the park and I think that’s something we should aspire to.”
In a speech which called on a new generation to take the Scottish Labour party forward from May’s “catastrophic” defeat, he accused the SNP government of failing to take responsibility for creaking public services, “from the GP crisis to the shambles of Police Scotland”.
“We need a government that isn’t just using Holyrood as a platform for independence, but as a way to change to lives of the people of Scotland,” he said.
Calling for a return to a community-based movement in order to win back the trust of voters, he told an audience of activists at Morningside parish church in Edinburgh: “The result in May was so devastating not just because of the overall result, but because it marked the end of the steady loss of the coalition of voters that had been years in the making.”
Referring to John Smith, whose funeral was held at Morningside church, and his generation of leaders, Murray insisted: “The Scottish Labour party can no longer turn to the big beasts.
“It falls to a new generation to take the Scottish Labour party forward. I want us to look back 20 years from now, in government in the UK and in Scotland, and be able to say that when the burden of responsibility passed to the next generation we were up to the challenge.”
This article was written by Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th July 2015 14.17 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010