New Scottish Secretary vows to make Scotland better for all with investment where it is needed

The new Scottish Secretary has vowed to spend money on projects across Scotland based on need instead of political allegiance to his party.

Ian Murray, who is now Scotland’s most powerful MP, said he had a “laserlike focus” on making life better for Scots regardless of whether they voted for Labour in the election.

Murray, who had been Labour’s sole Scottish MP for most of the past decade, said he was delighted to now have 36 other colleagues in Scottish seats and was confident their skills would be put to good use in representing their constituents.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mail after his party’s first cabinet meeting yesterday, the MP for Edinburgh South also hinted that Keir Starmer would be appointing more Scottish MPs to his front bench in the near future.

Murray said the Scotland Office, which is responsible for the UK Government’s policies on Scotland, is to become a “spending department” under Keir Starmer’s government allowing him to fund projects directly aimed at tackling poverty and boosting economic growth.

The Secretary of State vowed to do so on the basis of need, and said: “I think Keir has been pretty clear. What he said was that the vast majority of the country didn’t vote Labour at the election, and we’ll be a government for everyone.”

Sir Keir Starmer has been speaking while on the campaign trail in Grimsby
Sir Keir Starmer has been speaking while on the campaign trail in Grimsby -Credit:Getty Images

In 2023 analysis of Tory plans to ‘level up’ different parts of the country found that Tory-supporting areas were awarded much more per person than other areas despite having similar levels of deprivation.

Asked to guarantee this wouldn’t happen under Labour, Murray said: “Yes. It doesn’t matter if you are red, blue, yellow, orange, green or otherwise - we’ll be a government for the whole of the country and we want to deliver that economic growth and opportunities for every corner of the country, for all four nations but also all corners within those nations.

“The only guiding principle I’ve got is that it benefits Scots and Scotland and it doesn’t matter if you’re yes or no, leave or remain, left or right. I want to deliver for the country.”

Murray said he’s also taking a different approach than his predecessor Alister Jack by working alongside the Scottish Government rather than against it.

Jack, who was given a knighthood after he stood down as an MP, enraged Holyrood after blocking legislation including the Gender Recognition Reform bill and an exemption to allow glass to be included in Holyrood’s bottle return scheme.

Murray said: “The previous incumbents of this office in most recent times...the relationship has been fractious and probably deliberately so on both sides.

“It means they got nothing done and it’s been a disservice to the Scottish people.

“People want both governments, regardless of what party, to work together for their interests.

“We have asked Scotland to back the Labour party at the election so we could deliver change for the country in the biggest way possible and the public have responded to that.

“They’ll now expect us to deliver and they’ll take a very dim view if the Scottish Government decides that they’re not going to allow the UK Government to deliver in the way we want to.”

The Prime Minister spoke with John Swinney on Friday night, and will today be in Scotland to meet the First Minister in person alongside his deputy Kate Forbes.

Murray said his party is determined to show voters they can bring about change with the formation of GB Energy, one of the first policies to be introduced.

The publicly-owned energy firm is to be headquartered in Scotland with the location yet to be announced.

Murray said: “GB Energy is the single best example of what a UK Labour government wants to do that will have a big impact on Scotland - lowering people’s bills, providing energy security, jobs and helping climate targets.

“It’ll be headquartered in Scotland and is one of our first major tasks. It’s something Keir Starmer is very keen on getting moving quickly. It’s a huge focus.”

The MP, who grew up on a housing estate in Wester Hailes, South Edinburgh, said he was incredibly proud to be taking the Scottish Secretary role but said he couldn’t “get used to asking people to do things for me”, and added that the grand surroundings of his headquarters in Dover House would take some getting used to.

Asked if he would welcome more Scottish MPs into the cabinet or junior ministerial roles, Murray said:” Yes of course and I think you will see that.

“There’s 35 people who have just become MPs, they’ve got tremendous mandates for the local people they represent so lets have them walking before they can run but yes they will play a key role in the UK labour government - both on the back benches and front benches.

“I think a lot of them will be appointed and be at the centre of things very quickly.”

A huge Hearts FC fan, Murray said he was delighted to have fellow Jambos join him on the trek down to London every week now.

He joked: “The good thing is we’ve got a Jambo at the heart of the government and some others as well - two new MPs Richard Baker and Graeme Downie - so we’re taking over.

“I’ve been handed a lot of stuff in the last 24 hours and none of them, in all these diaries, have any Hearts games scheduled in so I might have to try and do something about that.”

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