Jim Murphy yesterday vowed to lead a “rebirth” of Scottish Labour, emphasising the party’s socialist roots and independence from London.
In his first major speech after being elected leader on Saturday, the MP for East Renfrewshire said he planned to rewrite the party’s constitution effectively preventing interference from the Labour’s UK head office.
Mr Murphy is out to stamp his own authority on the party after his predecessor Johann Lamont resigned stating the Labour leadership south of the border treated Scotland as a “branch office”.
But he also needs to restore the party’s position following the huge upsurge in SNP support in the wake of voters rejecting Scottish independence.
In recent years, the Nationalists have successfully wrapped themselves in the Saltire, branding themselves as the party for Scotland, the sole representative of Scottish interests and ideals.
Speaking in Glasgow, Mr Murphy said he wanted a new clause four moment, one that brings Labour “closer to the centre of Scottish life”, making it clear “we are both a democratic socialist party and a patriotic party”.
Historically, clause four of Labour’s constitution committed the party to a programme of nationalisation. But it was rewritten by Tony Blair before his 1997 election to bring Labour closer to the political centre.
Mr Murphy said the constitution will commit to a “permanent and powerful” Scottish Parliament, and the party’s “historic mission for a more equal and fairer society”.
“What I am announcing today will represent the refounding and the rebirth of our Scottish Labour Party,” he said.
“After today it will no longer be a matter of opinion, it will be a statement of unbreakable fact, written into the DNA and the constitution of our party, that decisions about Scotland will be made in Scotland.
“After the announcements that I have made here today, I will not seek, and I will not need to seek, the permission or the agreement of anyone else anywhere else in the United Kingdom about decisions to be made here in Scotland.
“Those days are gone and those days are gone for good.”