Labour frontbencher apologises to SNP MP for ‘ridiculous and pointless’ jibe

The shadow Scottish secretary has apologised after labelling an SNP MP “ridiculous and pointless” during a Commons debate on independence.

Ian Murray acknowledged he had overstepped the mark when responding to Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar).

Mr MacNeil had noted Mr Murray was making good points about economic problems caused by the UK Government, adding: “On the basis of that would he prefer an independent Scotland with a Labour or SNP Government or a Scotland inside the UK with a Tory government?”

Mr Murray replied: “I’d prefer Scotland within the UK with a Labour Government.

“What an absolutely ridiculous and pointless intervention from a ridiculous and pointless Member of Parliament … is that unparliamentary? OK, I apologise.”

Another MP could be heard shouting “it’s accurate” before Mr Murray repeated his apology.

Mr MacNeil later raised a point of order to say: “When you ask a question of a colleague in Parliament who finds it difficult to understand, is it in order to respond with insults?”

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans noted Mr Murray had apologised immediately, adding: “I think you should really accept that with good grace.”

Mr Murray went on: “I did apologise and I do so again.”

Mr MacNeil shouted he accepted it.

Further acrimony followed during the debate on Scottish independence when Alba MP Neale Hanvey questioned whether the Labour frontbencher suggested there “needs to be violence” for Scotland to claim independence, making a comparison with Irish history.

Mr Murray replied: “If that is the kind of argument we are getting from the Alba party who was elected as an SNP Member of Parliament, then the people of his constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath should reflect very seriously on what they should do at the next general election.”

Mr Hanvey called for the shadow minister to correct the record, as he was elected as an independent MP.

Mr Murray replied: “Yes, he did correct the record, because I forgot he was suspended for antisemitism.

“I am surprised he wants to put that on the public record of why he was thrown out of the Scottish National Party.”

In return the Alba MP said: “I know it may feel politically expedient for the shadow minister to slur me in the way that he did, but he should be aware that I was reinstated into the SNP because the accusations of antisemitism did not stand.”

After calls from Deputy Speaker Mr Evans to “change the tone” of the debate, Mr Murray said: “I heard the point of order from the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and accept the timeline, but I was accurate to say that he was thrown out as being an SNP candidate on accusations of antisemitism.”