JIM Murphy's leadership is in crisis after two trade unions urged him to quit and a senior MSP resigned from the Shadow Cabinet over the party's general election humiliation.

 

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Unite and the train drivers' union Aslef called on Murphy to consider his position amid fears the party faces "extinction" north of the border.

Murphy was then hit with another body blow after Neil Findlay, who he defeated in last year's leadership contest, tendered his resignation.

On Murphy's watch, Scottish Labour recorded its worst general election result since 1918, losing 39 of the party's 40 seats, a rout that included his own East Renfrewshire constituency.

The huge losses followed what party insiders believed was a dismal campaign by Murphy, who had said Labour would hold all 40 seats and gain a couple more.

He made a speech on Friday morning in which he vowed to continue in post.

However, Murphy was told to quit before the speech during a conference call with members of the party's governing Scottish Executive Committee (SEC).

The calls came from the trade union and constituency party sections of the SEC.

In a statement yesterday, Pat Rafferty, the leader of Unite in Scotland, said: "Staying on as leader will only prolong the party's agony. Scottish Labour must be rebuilt from the ground up, free from the taint of machine politics and the legacy of the misjudgements of the last Labour government.

"I therefore call on Jim Murphy to resign without delay, and give the membership of the Scottish Labour Party the chance to determine their own way forward in rebuilding from Thursday's ruins."

Aslef's Scotland organiser Kevin Lindsay said: "Jim Murphy has just presided over the worst election defeat in the history of the Scottish Labour party. He has to go - and he has to go now.

"Jim Murphy's moral judgement is being questioned by the Scottish people as he tries desperately to cling on."

Other affiliated trade unions will meet this week to formulate their position on the leadership issue.

If Murphy does not quit before next Saturday, it is understood a motion of no confidence will be tabled at the SEC.

Findlay, a left-winger who was the Shadow Cabinet member for fair work, skills and training , announced his resignation minutes after the unions issued their quit call:

"The problems of the Scottish Labour Party are wide ranging and deep. Radical solutions are needed and can only be implemented following a full, frank, open and democratic debate led by our loyal and hard working, committed party members - a centralised fix just won't do.

"I want to play a full part in that debate and in rebuilding our party from the grassroots up. I feel I can only do so if free from the constraints of being a member of the Shadow Team. I have therefore today submitted my resignation from the Shadow Cabinet."

One union source said the results of focus groups held during the campaign had been bad for Murphy: "People who knew him thought he had baggage. And the people who didn't know him, didn't like him."

Labour MSPs will discuss the party's future at an away day on Friday.

Katy Clark, a former MP who lost in North Ayrshire and Arran last week, said of Murphy: "I think he needs to consider his position."

Michael Connarty, who lost in Linlithgow and East Falkirk, said: "I think he should go. I don't think that Jim is far enough away from the past to give us a future."

Brian Donohoe, who lost in Central Ayrshire, criticised Murphy for changing the party's constitution earlier this year to include a reference to patriotism.

"That was total and absolute tokenism," he said.

One senior Labour MSP told the Sunday Herald: "It's absurd he's even considering staying. He's about as popular as herpes."

Former Labour finance minister Andy Kerr compared Murphy's general election campaign to "dad-dancing in the most modern nightclub in the city of Glasgow".

He added: "We were really out of date in what we were saying. The Scottish people moved on. There is a new normal in Scottish politics and we did not recognise any of that during the campaign and we need to do so."

However, other senior party figures were tight-lipped yesterday about the future of the party and Murphy's leadership.

Asked to comment on the election result, party donor Lord Haughey said: "I don't have anything to say."

Asked whether he still had faith in Murphy, the Labour peer added: "I don't have any view."

However, a senior SNP strategist said the Nationalists would prefer Murphy to remain as leader: "He's damaged goods. Why would we want him out?"

Murphy started the general election campaign with a 10,420 majority, but lost the seat to the SNP by 3,718 votes.

Other party leaders who presided over disappointing results - Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage - quickly announced their resignations.

An SNP spokesperson: "Part of the reason for Labour's defeat on Thursday was the removal of their identity over a period of many years by Blairism, and their alliance with the Tories in the referendum last year. Jim Murphy was instrumental in both of these things, so it is no wonder that senior Labour members know that he is a liability to their party."

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "This is no surprise. They wanted him to resign before he even became leader."