Jim Murphy to step down as Scottish Labour leader after parting shot at Unite's Len McCluskey

Murphy: "The leader of the Labour party does not serve at the grace of Len McCluskey"

SCOTTISH Labour leader Jim Murphy has announced he will step down in one month's time after putting forward proposals for widespread reform of the party in Scotland.

Murphy also took a parting shot at Unite general secretary Len McCluskey for attempting to undermine his leadership, saying the position should be not be decided by "the grudges and grievances of one man".

Labour suffered its worst result in over a century in Scotland in the General Election, losing all but one MP to the SNP.

"It's clear that a small minority that didn't accept my election as leader five months ago will continue not to accept my role as leader, and that will divide the party." Jim Murphy

Pressure on Murphy's leadership has been rising since then, with Unite, Aslef and CWU trade unions calling on him to resign, as well as Alex Rowley MSP and Elaine Smith MSP.

Murphy spoke at a press conference on Saturday after a meeting of the Scottish Labour executive, which voted 17-14 in favour of the former East Renfrewshire MP staying on as leader. However, Murphy said he'd taken the decision to resign before the meeting.

He said he would be staying on for one month to produce "a comprehensive report" on the future of the party covering internal and external issues, which he would put to another meeting of the Scottish Labour executive, at which point he will also tender his resignation.

"It's clear that a small minority that didn't accept my election as leader five months ago will continue not to accept my role as leader, and that will divide the party," he said.

Murphy linked his proposed changes to the influence of McCluskey on the party, who on Thursday criticised Scottish Labour and Murphy for the General Election result.

McCluskey said Murphy was to blame for the party losing across the UK, adding that the Scottish party leader "should just leave the scene". (Click here to read more).

Murphy singled McCluskey out for criticism in his resignation speech, saying that his comments were "a grotesque insult to Scottish Labour and all of its members".

"We cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one man. The leader of the Labour party does not serve at the grace of Len McCluskey." Jim Murphy

He said he had been "at the centre of a campaign by the London leadership of Unite union", but said the problem was not the link with trade unions, rather it was "the destructive behaviour of one high profile member".

"We cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one man. The leader of the Labour party does not serve at the grace of Len McCluskey, and the next leader of the Labour party should not be picked by Len McCluskey," Murphy said.

Part of the reforms proposed by Murphy will include moving to a system of "one member one vote" for Scottish Labour. Murphy said the electoral college system was "outdated" and he wanted to "defend the rights of Labour party members by putting them back at the centre of the organisation.

He said that no option "will be off the table" in changing the party, adding that a party "in such urgent need of reform blocks those proposals at its peril."

He added that Kezia Dugdale, deputy leader of the party in Scotland, will fulfil the role as acting leader once he steps down, but he wanted to stay for one month to implement the changes he felt the party desperately needed.

Murphy said he didn't want to be another Scottish Labour leader leaving "at a moment's notice", saying he wanted to bring forward reforms to a Scottish Labour which he described as "the least modernised part of the UK Labour party".

"My last act as leader is to give more power to the party members," he said.

Murphy won the leadership of Scottish Labour just months ago, 13 December last year, stating at the time that he wanted to get the party "winning" again.

Picture courtesy of Labour Party