Scottish Labour Leader Murphy to Resign

By Rowan Williams
  • Scottish Labour Party Leader Jim Murphy to resign
  • – Ousted Egyptian President Morsi sentenced to death
  • – China, US clash over South China Sea


The Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy, is to resign next month, Murphy has announced. Murphy narrowly survived a vote of no confidence ahead of the announcement at a meeting of Scottish Labour’s national executive in Glasgow. Murphy lost his seat in last week’s general election to the Scottish National Party, with the Labour Party retaining just one seat in Scotland. Murphy said he hoped to have a new leader in place by summer, and also announced that he would not stand for election in the 2016 Scottish parliamentary elections.

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death by an Egyptian court for his involvement in a mass prison break in 2011. 100 others were also sentenced to death over the prison break. Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected President before his ousting in 2013 by the Egyptian military after protests against his rule. Morsi supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood have denounced the ruling. Morsi’s verdict will now be passed on for ratification from a senior Egyptian cleric, though the judge may uphold the verdict without the cleric’s approval.

The US and China have clashed over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, ahead of talks on Sunday between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Secretary of State John Kerry. In a meeting between Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Wang staunchly defended China’s construction and land reclamation efforts in the Nansha islands. Wang said such actions were fully in keeping with China’s right to protect its sovereignty. China’s actions have worried nations with competing territorial claims in the region. The US has expressed concerns over China’s land reclamation efforts, though has not taken a formal stance on rival territorial claims.

The Papers

A mix of headlines today. The Guardian leads with news of a “New inquiry” into former Labour MP Lord Janner over historical child sex abuse claims. The Independent leads with news that the UK ban on fox hunting is “’set to repealed within 12 months’”, according to hunting supporters. An early House of Commons vote on the issue of hunting with dogs is expected, with the Countryside Alliance believing the pro-hunting side will win. The Times leads with news that former Labour Party leadership contender Chuka Umunna was in a “’really bad place’” before withdrawing his party leadership bid yesterday, according to the Umunna’s friends. Umunna cited intense media attention as a primary reason for his withdrawal. The Financial Times Weekend reports in its headline that Prime Minister David Cameron has been “squeezed on both sides of border by clamour for extra powers” for Scotland, after Cameron met Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh on Friday. English Conservative backbench MPs have pressed Cameron for greater control over English affairs at the same time, the paper reports. The Daily Telegraph leads with news of its interview with Conservative election strategist Lynton Crosby, in which Crosby gives a “damning verdict on the Westminster political class”; politicians have presided over a “Betrayal of British voters”, the paper’s headline writes.

British Media on China

On Sino-Indian ties: the signing off of US$22 billion worth of business deals between India and China received coverage from some UK media outlets. The Independent writes that the deals come following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to China, where “Peace along the India-China border was on the table, as well as visa policies and routes for Indian pilgrims, but finance was the main focus”. The BBC writes that China and India “are talking up the need for greater co-operation following decades of mistrust”. However, the BBC notes, the two countries “remain fierce rivals” with the two countries clashing over border disputes and “regional influence”. The Guardian’s agency piece writes that “China is interested in more opportunities” in India, but since a previous announcement of investment projects in 2014, “progress has been slow” in India due to difficulties faced by Modi in “getting political approval for easier land acquisition laws”.

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