Labour MP Jim Murphy “played a leadership role” organising opposition parties, including the ScottishTories, in a Unionist campaign against an independence referendum in 2009, according to secret documents made available by Wikileaks.
The documents, compiled by a senior US official at the US Embassy in London, reveal that Mr Murphy was in charge of organising a coalition of Unionist parties whose aim was to block an independence referendum and instead move Scotland towards acceptance of the proposals outlined in the Calman Commission.
The documents, compiled by US official Richard LeBaron, indicate that Murphy’s own advisers and opposition party leaders confirmed his role to the Americans. The documents also show that US officials believed that Alex Salmond had called Wesminster’s bluff by urging the acceleration of the new Calman powers and that London’s ‘stalling’ had strengthened the hand of the SNP.
The documents state: “Throughout 2009, UK Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy played a leadership role in organizing the opposition parties, hoping to move Scotland toward implementation of the Calman recommendations as an alternative to an independence referendum, according to Murphy’s advisors, Labour party insiders, and opposition party leaders.
First Minister Salmond’s response to independence critics (such as Murphy) has been to accelerate the implementation of the Calman recommendations as soon as possible – “to call the bluff.”
The revelations that the Labour MP, when Secretary of State for Scotland, was helping organise the Tories and LibDems against a referendum, that polls indicated most Scots wanted, are sensational and are sure to cause embarrassment to Mr Murphy who only last week insisted that he will not share an anti-independence platform with Conservative PM David Cameron in the forthcoming referendum campaign.
Pressed last week in an interview whether he would join Tory PM David Cameron in campaigning against independence Mr Murphy said: ““I was on the same side as David Cameron on the AV vote. But I wouldn’t share a platform with him and I’m not going to share a platform with him on the referendum.”
The document contents will also call into question claims by Mr Murphy and other leading Scottish Labour politicians, including Labour’s Iain Gray, that Labour will run a completely separate pro-Union campaign from the one headed by the UK PM.
Asked on Thursday about Mr Murphy’s comments Iain Gray replied: “While Labour and the Tories, neither of us support independence, our approach to that is rather different. The Labour party is a party of devolution, we do support home rule, we brought the Scottish Parliament in back in the mid-nineties.
“And so the arguments we make against separatism will I think be different from the arguments that the Tories will make.
“I hope they make them that’s fine but Jim was saying that Labour will make our own distinct arguments why Scotland’s future is better without separation.”