Jim Murphy

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Jim Murphy is the Labour MP for the East Renfrewshire (previously Eastwood) constituency, just outside Glasgow in Scotland. Murphy was a former president of the National Union of Students.[1] He holds the possibly unique distinction of having been condemned by a House of Commons Early Day Motion for "intolerant and dictatorial behaviour" shortly before being elected to the Commons [2].

Whilst NUS President, Murphy managed to completely reverse his position on higher education funding within two years [3]. In early 2006 Murphy helped pilot the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill through Parliament, a Bill which critics claim will seriously weaken Parliamentary democracy.[4][5] One report states that, "According to Oliver Heald, when asked why the Bill did not contain the orginal recommendations concerning business regulation, Murphy replied 'We have wider ambitions than that'." [6]

In the Cabinet reshuffle following Labour's poor results in the 2006 local government elections, Murphy - who has been described as a "young Blairite" - was promoted to Minister for Work.[7] He had previously served as parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office.[8]


  • 1967: Born in Glasgow.[9]
  • Educated in Scotland and South Africa before going on to Strathclyde University.[10]
  • 1994-1996: President of the National Union of Students.[11][12]
  • May 1997: Became an MP.[13]
  • March 2001 - June 2002: Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland.[14]
  • June 2002 - June 2003: Appointed to the Government as a Whip with responsibility for a number of departments.[15]
  • June 2003: Appointed Lord Commissioner.[16]
  • May 2005: Appointed Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office following the General Election.[17]

Jim Murphy and higher education funding

1994: Defending free education. 1996: Sacking the defenders of free education

Murphy was elected NUS President in 1994. According to a Guardian interview at the time, Murphy was passionate about his commitment to restoring the full student grant [18]:

"He talks about his plans with a quasi-evangelical fervour. 'The number of students in higher education has expanded,' he says, 'so that many people now have a brother or a cousin or a daughter or a next-door neighbour in education. I hope to ensure that many of those students become carriers of the message.' The message being that students should be funded properly by the state, that the Student Loans Company should be abolished ('It costs more to run than returning students to state benefits, and that's an obscene waste of taxpayers' money') and that action, as showed last year, can make a difference.
"On this last he is nothing if not ambitious. Last year the union, led by Lorna Fitzsimons, used lobbying rather than confrontational techniques to get virtually all the offending clauses removed from the Education Bill. Government insiders privately acknowledged that one idea behind the Bill was the eventual collapse of the NUS itself, but that's now out of the question, luckily for Jim. And he hopes to build on this achievement by overturning the 30 per cent cut in grants over the next three years that Kenneth Clarke announced last autumn.
"He'll be too late to do anything about this year's 10 per cent cut, 'but I think that went through the Commons with a 21-vote majority,' he says. 'And that's not the biggest majority in the world.'"

Yet by 1996, less than two years later and with a Blair victory looking inevitable within months, Murphy was playing a key role in securing the union's support for a graduate tax to fund higher education. According to Shiraz Rustom, at that time the student governor of Queen Mary Westfield College, Murphy suspended Clive Lewis, the convenor of the Black Students Campaign and NUS vice president, for having spoken in favour of free education.[19] The suspension prompted eight Labour MPs, including Tony Benn, Alice Mahon and Dennis Skinner, to sign a Commons Early Day Motion condemning the "intolerant and dictatorial behaviour of the President of the NUS." [20]

The graduate tax is now used to repay loans issued by the Student Loans Company - the same organisation that Murphy called "an obscene waste of taxpayers' money" in 1994.[21]

The day the music died

Murphy even tried to stop the release of a fund-raising CD for the Campaign For Free Education, according to Graham Hellawell, who was at that time the campaign's secretary. Hellawell wrote that:

"Recent reports in publications such as the NME, The Guardian and The Big Issue, have reported that former NUS President Jim Murphy wrote to Delerium records and several of the artists featured on this CD urging them to terminate its release. Several of the artists publicly responded, including Suede and Chumbawamba but Mr. Murphy refused to comment." [22]

A Sunday Times report gives some more details:

"He recently fired off a set of faxes railing against [the] compilation album... One pop star recipient said: 'Last week we got a fax from Murphy saying, "You shouldn't support these people, they're extremists and you'll damage education as a whole if you do."'... Rosie Woods, of the CFE steering committee, is shocked by Murphy's 'extremists' claim. 'He's talking rubbish. The campaign includes Militant members, Liberal Democrats, centrist Labourites, anybody who believes paying for education is immoral. Murphy is nothing but a bullying, undemocratic mandate-breaker.'" [23]

How to get your rent back. And then get some more back

In late 2001, Murphy became embroiled in controversy over the subletting of his constituency office to a Labour MSP. Murphy had failed to declare this to the House of Commons authorities, from whom he was continuing to receive his full rental allowance. Murphy's constituency party was consequently being reimbursed more than 100% of the cost of renting the office.[24]

APPG memberships

  • Ageing and Older people
  • Anglo - American
  • Anglo - Israel
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Children
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
  • Consumer Affairs (Secretary)
  • Drugs Misuse
  • Epilepsy
  • Film Industry
  • Football Group
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • Islam Group
  • Lupus
  • Male Cancer
  • Parliamentary Council against Anti-Semitism
  • South Africa and Southern Africa

Murphy's website states that "as a Government Minister Jim's membership of these groups is suspended in line with the Ministerial Code. He can still attend the meetings in Parliament."

Labour Party Group memberships

  • Vice Chair Labour’s Departmental Treasury Committee (1997 - 2001)
  • Vice Chair Labour’s Departmental Culture, Media and Sport Committee (1997 - 2001)
  • Member of Labour’s Northern Ireland Committee
  • Chair Labour Friends of Israel (2000-2002)

Other intrests of Murphy include: [25]

  • Member of the Fabian Society.
  • The Co-operative Party and Glasgow Health Forum.

Contact information

Eastwood Parliamentary Office
1st Floor, 238 Ayr Road
Newton Mearns, G77 6AA
Tel: +44 141 577 0100 (constituency office)
Tel: +44 207 7219 4615 (House of Commons, direct line) [26]
Fax: +44 141 616 3613
Email: jimmurphymp AT parliament.uk
Website: http://www.jimmurphymp.com/

Website: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/eastrenfrewshire/

Website: http://www.epolitix.com/EN/MPWebsites/Jim+Murphy

SourceWatch resources

External links



  • Council, Henry Jackson Society, accessed June 4, 2015.