Comment: A friend and public servant

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For the last week or so, there has been no getting away from the pain of losing the General Election.

Colleagues can console themselves that it was not personal in the sense that even the most decent, most assiduous, most caring constituency MPs have been swept away by the scale of the political change.

But it can’t help but be personal when you have a matter of days to pack up your office or deal with the poignancy of changing the answer phone message and nameplate.

And I defy anyone not to be upset at the brutal reality of issuing your staff with their letters of redundancy.

Election night meant big change for the people of Scotland and for the politics of Britain and that change did not escape us here in East Renfrewshire.

Our MP of almost 20 years, my colleague and my friend, Jim Murphy lost his seat to the SNP.

Jim has been a leading figure in our community for all of those two decades and I am proud to have worked alongside him to serve the people of East Renfrewshire.

Throughout his long and impressive career, Jim remained as dedicated, hardworking and determined for the people of this area as he was when he first won the seat in 1997.

If he was solely to be judged by the difference he made to individual lives, to local families, to the hard-pressed or harshly treated, we would all wish to pay thanks for Jim’s record of public service.

But of course his contribution has been so much more.

A Minister in Tony Blair’s Government, a Cabinet Secretary under Gordon Brown and a leader of our Party in Scotland; Jim has served East Renfrewshire, Scotland and Britain with real distinction and his loss will be keenly felt.

Jim led from the front, and although it was an issue which divided our country, there will be many in East Renfrewshire and elsewhere who will remain forever grateful for his contribution to the referendum debate and for keeping Scotland in the UK.

I had the good fortune to share an office with Jim for 16 of his 18 years as our Member of Parliament and alongside his undoubted political skills, I would want to pay tribute to his strength of character, his sense of humour and his drive and energy, sometimes as likely to be revealed in his passion for football as it was in Parliament.

Jim has the resilience as well as the ability to do well in whatever he chooses to do next and if the texts and emails I have received over the last few days are anything to go by, he will do so carrying the respect, the warmth and the affection of many, many of his fellow citizens here in East Renfrewshire.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our new MP, Kirsten Oswald, for her victory.

I echo what Jim said in his concession speech - representing you and our local community is a huge privilege.

Whilst we have a fundamentally different view on the future of our country, I do wish Kirsten the very best.

In standing up for the people of East Renfrewshire, I think she could do worse than to look at the example, the contribution and the 
commitment of that outstanding public servant, Jim Murphy.