Scottish Labour Candidate for Edinburgh South, Ian Murray speaks to The Student about his work so far as an MP since 2010, and his goals for the future of his constituency and beyond as he stands for re-election for a third time on December 12th.
Arriving to interview Ian, it becomes clear that his campaign is well under way, with a very busy office – which Ian describes himself as ‘like a train station’ – and a Christmas hat he has been sent which reads ‘A very Murray Christmas’.
Ian has had a number of personal highlights and achievements since election in 2010, despite acknowledging his limitations as an opposition MP, he says:
“We do lots of stuff to defend the local community, anything that’s happening in the constituency we’re involved in it some point along the line.”
His work at the heart of the Pro EU movement is also a big highlight for Ian, who is described by parts of the Scottish press as ‘Scotland’s most prominent remain MP’.
“I set up the People’s Vote Campaign in 2018… we’re right at the heart of that campaign for people’s vote with the option to remain and it’s not over yet.”
Climate change is a particular focal point in Ian’s campaign.
“Two big issues that young people always talk to me about in terms of politics are international affairs and climate change, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
“There is no doubt the climate emergency issue has gone to the top of the political agenda because of young people…
“It was the 10,000 young people marching in all the cities that were the key to that. Keep being passionate about it, and keep pestering people like me.”
“In 2013, I had a Private Member’s Bill to try and decarbonise the entirety of the UK’s energy market by 2030 and everybody thought I was being radical.
“It ended up in the 2015, 17 and 19 Labour Party Manifesto.”
He goes on to say that the next Parliament, if it runs in full, is the ‘last chance’ for climate change.
There are many other aspects of Ian’s campaign, such as his work on a Child Poverty Eradication Bill he believes is crucial, after a Conservative government which he describes as having more or less ‘completely reversed’ the legislative steps taken by the previous Labour government on getting young people, children and pensioners out of poverty.
On Scottish Independence, Ian strongly stands against a second referendum.
“We had a referendum in 2014. Everyone agreed, whatever side you’re on, that it was clear, concise, it was fair.
“If Brexit’s taught us anything, breaking up successful unions is not only difficult to do but it’s disastrous. You cannot make the arguments that Brexit is bad but Scexit is good because the principle is exactly the same.”
The discussion then turned to the ongoing UCU strikes. When asked how the education system could change to benefit both lecturers and students, Murray responds:
“…we have world class universities in Edinburgh, and Edinburgh University itself is in the top 20 universities in the world – it didn’t get there by having nice buildings and a good reputation. It got there by the hard-working, world-class staff.
“…I encourage students to show their solidarity: as an undergraduate from Edinburgh myself, if it wasn’t for the professionalism and staff I wouldn’t have graduated.
“…education should be free, but it shouldn’t be free at the expense of people not being able to access it. The cap on numbers means that Scottish students can’t study at Scottish universities…that’s a big inequality that has to be resolved.”
The earlier topics of poverty and community then came up again when Murray is asked about potential policies to tackle homelessness.
“Homelessness has exponentially risen in [the UK]” Murray explains.
“…We have too many people sleeping on the streets and it’s a national disgrace.
“My surgeries are full of people who need homes. I don’t know how we resolve that without major investment in house building in this country.”
The issue of Brexit is then discussed again, as Murray describes his related campaigns over the past few years.
“I’ve gone on a bit of a journey,” Murray states. “…I voted to remain, I campaigned to remain, this constituency was 80 per cent to remain.
“When the government came in, I started the Labour party campaign for the single market in the customs union, which was essentially saying if we are to leave we should leave on the least worst and least damaging option.”
“When the government decided that they were going to pander to their own extremities rather than reaching a consensus, myself and my colleagues set up the People’s Vote campaign so that the public could have their say.
“I also think that… all we need is a People’s Vote. I think straight revocation is dangerous, because I think it wouldn’t have any democratic legitimacy, and also…could divide the country even more.
“But the message to young people… Stop complaining, get registered and go to the polling station. And if you don’t, you end up with Brexit.”
Finally, talk turned to the Edinburgh South constituency itself, with Murray describing his re-election campaign and his work so far.
“…I’ve been out door-knocking every single day, and we will be right up until the polls close at 10pm on polling day…because it’s important to talk to people.
“That’s what democracy looks like… You’ve got to meet them face-to-face, look into the whites of their eyes, see if they’re lying to you… I think this constituency votes for me for three reasons.
“One is my local record… in terms of what we’ve done locally. The second thing is my stance on the European Union in a very pro-remain constituency. And the third thing is my anti-independence stance…people do vote tactically for the solution that they want.”
Image: Frankie Salvini